Uhuru, Raila flex muscle on political parties Bill

Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday used their numerical strength in Parliament as they warded off resistance from Deputy President William Ruto allies to pass three critical clauses in the contentious Political Parties (Amendment) Bill.

In a chaotic session marred with an exchange of blows, constant shouting and throwing of water bottles at each other, the proponents of the bill pushed through the amendments despite spirited resistance from DP Ruto allies.

An amendment by Garissa Township MP Aden Duale sought to amend clause 5 of the bill which provides that an application for provisional registration of a political party shall be accompanied by a statement on the ideology of the proposed political party.

Mr Duale said the provision is subject to abuse since it has no definition of what an ideology is.

Majority leader Amos Kimunya and his minority counterpart John Mbadi opposed Duale’s amendment.

“I oppose this amendment. We are trying to create parties that have certain ideologies and direction. We don’t want to be taken back to the dark days where parties are just sloganeering in the rallies but have no ideology,” Mr Kimunya said

“Anyone wishing to form a party in this country must have a clear ideology. This is the problem we have been having in this country where we have many briefcase parties that stand for nothing,” added Mr Mbadi.

The Nays carried the day on the acclamation vote but DP allies opposed the outcome forcing the Speaker to call for division. In the division, proponents of the bill carried the day with 153 opposing while DP Ruto managed 134 in support of the proposal.

Dr Ruto allies suffered another setback after amendments by Kandara MP Alice Wahome seeking to strike out the clause on the formation of a coalition political party on account that it is unconstitutional was defeated with 158 voting against it while 134 voted for it

While moving the amendments, Ms Wahome said the proposal offends the constitution since a coalition political party is not defined in the current Constitution.

However, Mr Kigano said the same issue had been dealt with during last week’s special sitting, and accused Ms Wahome of derailing the passage of the Bill.

Mr Kimunya also accused Ms Wahome of misleading the House by her claims on the unconstitutionality.

“I’m not sure which law school Ms Wahome went to. When people expose their ignorance on the floor of the house, we must expose them. The Bill has all the definitions of terms in the preceding clause,” Mr Kimunya said.

However, the DP managed one win when a proposal by his ally Tigania West MP John Mutunga seeking to allow political parties to use their dominant colours after the symbol in the ballot sailed through with 123 MPs voted for the amendments while 118 allied to President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga voted against it.

DP allies, Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Owen Baya (Kilifi North), and John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) also suffered another blow after Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi dropped their amendments, saying the proposals are new and require public participation.

The MPs were all seeking to amend the Bill to establish the Political Parties Registration Board and the office of Chief Executive Officer of the Board and alter the manner of appointment of the officials

A proposal by Belgut MP Nelson Koech to amend the Bill to change the title from the ‘Political Parties (Amendment) Bill’ to ‘Political Parties Coalition Bill’ was also disallowed on technicalities.

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