End of party for hoppers as MPs pass elections law

| September 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

President Uhuru Kenyatta (front left) with his deputy William Ruto and officials of political parties that will merge to form the Jubilee Party at State House in Nairobi on August 9, 2016.

The National Assembly has passed a Bill barring party-hopping after MPs withdrew all changes they had proposed.

Among the proposed law’s significant provisions is the placing of restrictions on changing parties close to the elections.

MPs offered no room for compromise, shooting down even attempts to clean up the language of the Bill and forcing their colleagues to withdraw their proposed changes to the 2016 Election Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Election Offences Bill.

The changes to the Bill require parties to carry out their nominations at least 60 days to the elections rather than the 45 allowed currently.

Politicians would also be forced to choose their parties at least 90 days to the elections, with the Elections Act being changed to make it mandatory for parties to submit lists of their members to the IEBC at least 90 days to the date of the General Election.

With the next elections slated for August 2017, this means that the lists should be submitted by the beginning of May.

Independent candidates are supposed to submit their nomination forms to the IEBC at least 60 days before the elections.

This would mean that once a candidate’s name is submitted to the IEBC as a member of the party at least 90 days before the election, they would be locked in that party and would not qualify to run as an independent candidate.

The political parties would also be required to submit their lists of nominated candidates at least 60 days to the elections.

In addition, parties would also be required to submit the names of their members participating in the primaries at least 21 days before the date of the nominations.

So focused were the MPs on rejecting any amendments to the Bill that they shouted Nay to reject a clause of the Bill on which no change had been proposed, prompting temporary Speaker Rachel Shebesh to call the House to order.

This forced Majority Leader Aden Duale to compel the House to rescind its decision and vote again on the clause.

The mood had been set earlier in the day, with Cord leader Raila Odinga saying there had been consultations with the MPs, the opposition leaders in the National Assembly and the Senate and members of the defunct joint select committee and an agreement struck to support the Bill without amendments.

Earlier, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said the proposed law barring party-hopping is constitutional but left the door open for MPs to propose changes to it.

Mr Muturi based his ruling on the standing orders, which were also referred to by his deputy Joyce Laboso when she ruled on the matter last week

“Members of the House are at liberty to propose amendments to and indeed to amend the Bill in the usual manner as provided for under the Standing Orders. That settles the issue,” said Mr Muturi.

MPs had already gone ahead and prepared amendments to the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, with Mr Muturi saying that many more were still being prepared in the course of the afternoon.


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