Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Uhuru, Raila join forces to tame defectors

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale at a media briefing at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi on April 14, 2016. Jubilee and Cord leaders have agreed on a proposal to block party defectors before 2017 polls. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga have agreed to block last-minute defections by aspirants before the General Election.

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The recommendation is to be debated in the National Assembly and Senate.

It is backed by the Jubilee and Cord coalitions which have the most representatives in both houses of Parliament.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and his Minority counterpart Francis Nyenze supported the proposal by the joint parliamentary select committee aimed at ending party-hopping, which happens after the nomination of candidates by political parties.

On Wednesday, Cord leader Raila Odinga approved the recommendation but said he was opposed to President Kenyatta’s role in approving new IEBC commissioners.

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The President is expected to receive the report on Thursday.

Mr Duale told the Nation that the report and the Bills drafted by the joint select committee would be passed as they are, adding that the provision to stop party-hopping would reduce opportunities for the rise of small briefcase parties when elections approach.

“This country should have three or four major parties. I think it’s good for democracy,” he said.


ODM MPs Peter Kaluma and Eddick Anyanga also backed the idea but opposed a proposal to have the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission conduct party nominations on one day.

“You should join a party if you believe in the party, believe in the leadership and believe in its ideology. The idea that you are jumping from one party to another undermines the principle that we are a multi-party democracy,” said Mr Kaluma.

He added that politicians would have to fully understand their preferred parties before joining them.

“If you like the party and believe the party, join the party,” said Mr Anyanga, the MP for Nyatike.

“We don’t want a situation where you are in the middle. You are in a party and you remain in that party.”

The proposal to end defections was agreed on by the select committee, which was tasked with determining the fate of the current IEBC commissioners and recommend changes to electoral laws to improve accountability.

The committee was co-chaired by Senators Kiraitu Murungi and James Orengo and it agreed that nominations of all political parties for the next elections should be carried out by the new IEBC.

All political parties would be required to publish the names of their members 14 days to the nominations.

“Once your name has been published, you cannot change your status,  you cannot  move from one party to another or change your status as an independent candidate.


The laws are being changed to ensure there is absence of party hopping in 2017,” said Mr Murungi.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat opposed the proposal.

They said it was a tactic by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to block members of their coalitions seeking to vie on other parties if they were rigged out at the nominations.

They said the defections clause was against the rights of Kenyans to associate with their preferred political parties and warned that it was likely to be challenged in court.

“The proposal is meant to protect the Jubilee Party from the likely fall-outs during the nomination. It is a mechanism that Jubilee and Cord want to use to stifle the democratic space and they should be ready to face suits in court,” Mr Salat said on the telephone.

He claimed the proposal was a “premeditated decision by Jubilee and Cord to lock in members.”

He added: “They forget that it is something that can be challenged in court because they are making laws for their own convenience.”

ANC and Kanu are the two main parties likely to benefit immensely from a likely nominations fall-out.

“The proposal must be voted out by MPs,” said Mr Mudavadi on the telephone.

Mr Salat urged MPs to reject the proposal, arguing that by approving the recommendation, MPs would put their political careers at risk.

“We look forward to MPs passing it because they will be putting a rope around their necks,” he said.

The proposal could face opposition on the floor as many MPs have in the past been knocked out unfairly during nominations.

Gatanga MP Humphrey Njuguna said he had won nomination for the TNA ticket in Gatanga  in the last General Election but had his certificate of nomination withdrawn and given to someone else.

“The people told me, ‘Come back to the field and irrespective of the party, we’ll elect you.’ I’m the people’s choice. Would you call that party-hopping?” asked the MP, who decamped to Narc and cliched the seat.

Mr Odinga through his spokesman Dennis Onyango said they were opposed to the electoral commission conducting ODM party nominations.

Mr Duale and Mr Nyenze will this morning preside over a ceremony for the official receipt of the committee’s report and Bills.

The report  is expected to be tabled in both Houses today, with the National Assembly yesterday approving the extension of its term by two days.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi warned that the report had to conform to the rules of the House or risk being thrown out.

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