Uhuru, Ruto top list of MPs who must resign
KENYA: Next week will see mass resignations of Members of Parliament ahead of the deadline on January 4.
Led by a host of presidential aspirants and well-known politicians, over 100 MPs would be forced to resign their seats after abandoning the parties that sponsored them to Parliament.
They include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who jumped ship from Kanu and founded The National Alliance (TNA), and his Jubilee Alliance partner Eldoret North MP William Ruto, who is now in the United Republican Party (URP), from ODM.
Ruto wrote to the acting Registrar of Political Parties, Lucy Ndung’u, on December 21, and formally joined URP on December 23.
Uhuru resigned from Kanu on December 22, and joined TNA.
Foreign Affairs minister Prof Sam Ongeri has abandoned Kanu for TNA.
Watching from the sidelines will be Prime Minister Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement) and Vice- President Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper Democratic Movement).
The two alongside many MPs have stuck to the parties that elected them to Parliament.
Most affected are the Party of National Unity (PNU) where a majority of MPs have moved to TNA, with a few going to other parties, rendering the party that sponsored President Kibaki to State House virtually moribund.
ODM will be saying good riddance to a host of MPs from the Rift Valley who joined Ruto in URP, even as they kept membership of the party that sponsored them to Parliament.
The Political Parties Act bars individuals from belonging to more than one political party at the same time.
Uhuru and Ruto had to relinquish membership of the parties that sponsored them to Parliament before they could be given the mandate to run for president under the umbrella of the Jubilee Alliance.
The law requires that MPs who want to resign write to the Registrar of Political Parties, the Clerk of the National Assembly, and the political party they are defecting from.
Though January 4 is the deadline for the resignation from their current parties, the MPs would be expected to resign by Monday, December 31, if they are to make it to party membership list to be deposited with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Surprises are not to be ruled out, however, as many MPs keen on returning to Parliament will be choosing parties they believe can boost their ambitions.
Among those affected are Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi (ODM to UDF) and Peter Kenneth and Eugene Wamalwa (both from PNU to Kenya National Congress and New Ford- Kenya).
Ruto will also be resigning this week officially from ODM to URP, along with about 50 MPs who are allied to the Jubilee Alliance.
Most of those affected are from the TNA wing of the alliance. Some like Trade Minister Moses Wetangula and Noah Wekesa have moved from PNU to Ford-Kenya are in the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).
Also affected are Cabinet ministers Samuel Poghisio from Wiper Democratic Movement to URP, and Chirau Ali Mwakwere from PNU to URP.
Other ministers are Kiraitu Murungi from PNU to Alliance Party of Kenya, Njeru Githae (PNU to TNA), and Amos Kimunya (PNU to TNA).
Also affected are Esther Murugi, Beth Mugo Jamleck Kamau (PNU to TNA), Naomi Shaban and Yusuf Haji (Kanu to TNA), and Soita Shitanda (PNU to United Democratic Forum).
Joe Nyagah, an ODM nominated MP quit the party for TNA, as did MP Rachel Shebesh and Webuye MP, Alfred Sambu, who moved to UDF.
The resignation will leave President Kibaki’s PNU on its knees, as MPs dash out of the party.
The mass resignation is likely to affect House business given that Parliament’s term expires on January 14, after the MPs would have resigned.
Avert a crisis
But some MPs are toying with the idea of amending Elections Act to move forward the deadline for resignations and avert a crisis in Parliament.
Joint Government Chief Whip and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo has drafted an Amendment Bill that seeks to have the membership list submitted to the IEBC 50 days to the General Election.
“I will address this (problem) through an amendment to the Elections Act tomorrow (today),” said Jakoyo.
Parliament resumes its sittings this afternoon and among the Bills to be discussed in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, which also contains amendments to the Elections Act.
The Bill is an omnibus law that seeks to amend several statutes.
Uhuru and Ruto have since written to Kanu and ODM, as the law requires, announcing their defections to TNA and URP.
Kenneth and Wamalwa have also separately written to the PNU secretary general and the Registrar of Political Parties stating they had defected from the party.
“I am against any attempt to extend the timelines by two weeks as is being pushed for by some MPs. We should stick to the deadlines as they are now so that we can begin the contest,” said Peter Kenneth.
Allied to party
Uhuru, who is the presidential candidate for the Jubilee Alliance on Sunday, said he had resigned from Kanu.
Over 100 MPs allied to these parties are expected to follow suit and hand in their resignations.
The vacancies would, however, not occasion by-elections as they are coming within three months to the General Election, but will affect parliamentary business.
The law prohibits by-elections within three months to the General Election, making it impossible for IEBC to declare the seats vacant and for the Speaker to issue writs to necessitate by-elections.
Although the Elections Act is silent on party hopping, all parties are expected to present lists of their members to IEBC by Friday, next week.
“The Act does not stop party hopping directly, but if your name would not be on the lists to be presented to IEBC before January 4, then you will not be eligible to vie for any elective post in the elections,” said Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat.
“A political party that nominates a person for any election under this Act shall submit to the commission a party membership list of the party at least two months before the date of the General Election,” states Section 28 of the Elections Act 2011.
“I am ready to enroll as KNC party member by tomorrow (Friday) if the resignation from PNU would have been processed,” Kenneth told The Standard yesterday.
Kenneth said that KNC had not been keen to attract sitting MPs as members as it was clear that in elections 80 per cent of legislators rarely retain their seats.
Wamalwa also said he had formally informed PNU and the acting Registrar of Political Parties of his defection.
“I have written to PNU and the registrar stating that I have switched to New Ford-Kenya, in which I intend to formally register in the New Year,” Wamalwa said.
New Ford-Kenya has set up a National Elections Board and is preparing the ground for nominations.
The Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister revealed that nominated MP Musikari Kombo, former Ambassador and Cabinet minister Kipruto Kirwa and former Livestock Development Permanent Secretary Kenneth Lusaka have also enrolled in New Ford-Kenya.
“We have attracted a new crop of leaders with integrity and the support from the grassroots as opposed to the party euphoria, which some MPs expect to ride on in the March 4 General Election. We will field candidates in all elective positions,” Kenneth said.