Raila, Ruto lock horns over Sh6 billion political party's fund

President William Ruto with ODM party leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

Azimio leader Raila Odinga yesterday opened a legal battle with the Kenya Kwanza administration over political party funds.

Raila, through the ODM party, asked the High Court to suspend the implementation of the supplementary budget following a Sh1.2 billion cut of the political party entitlement.

Lawyer Jackson Awele argued that the allocation in the supplementary budget was below the Sh6 billion allocated to political parties during the 2023-2024 financial year.

According to the lawyer, a total of Sh1.2 billion is missing from the allocation in the supplementary budget.

Awele claimed that the Kenya Kwanza regime intends to cripple multi-party democracy by starving main opposition parties of funds.

“There is plausible cause to believe that the respondents’ actions are a well calculated, deliberate, surreptitious collateral attack on multi-party democracy; the fundamental pillar under-girding the Republican, sovereign democratic state that the Constitution declares Kenya to be,” he said.

In 2019 Court of Appeal ordered the government to allocate at least 0.3 per cent of the national budget to political parties.

Each party gets funds according to the number of MPs it has in Parliament.

Awele said that on November 23, President William Ruto assented into law the Supplementary Appropriation Act (no 3), 2023, paving way for the use of the funds allocated.

However, the government allegedly amended the law and slashed the amount.

The Orange party argued that the Registrar of Political Parties confirmed that the reductions violate the law.

ODM wants the court to freeze the implementation of the supplementary budget.

In the alternative, it wants the court to order the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndungú to release the full entitlement.

“The net effect of these reductions is that the petitioner or applicant, a political party with grassroots offices, several employees, member programmes and work plans across the country has, without notice and in violation of its legitimate expectations in law been deprived of over Sh1.2 billion of much-needed funds thereby gravely compromising its ability to effectively discharge its mandate and or run its programmes,” stated Awele.

The lawyer said that a cursory review of the law signed by President Ruto shows the list of the offices or persons consulted and excluded political parties and members of the public.

The lawyer argued that public participation was a cosmetic public relations exercise designed to create the facade of compliance.

“Taken together with the colossal adverse variation to the appropriated funds to the political party’s fund, all qualifying political parties and their members and members of the public at large needed to be given a meaningful opportunity to appreciate and comment on the same,” he said.

ODM Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen said that opposition parties will bear the greatest brunt and there is real danger of Kenya relapsing to autocracy or monocracy.

“The petitioner pleads that in passing the impugned Act, the National Assembly and the President failed in their mandate under Articles 10, 93, 94 and 139 to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution and in particular to promote and defend the edict of multipartyism and the rule of law,” said Ong’wen.

ODM is also asking the court to find that the National Assembly cannot adversely vary already appropriated funds through a supplementary appropriations law.

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