CMD: Allowing party-hopping bad for democracy

October 3, 2012 3:13 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 3 – The Centre for Multi-party Democracy (CMD) on Wednesday urged Members of Parliament not to amend the Elections (Amendment) Bill that came before the House earlier in the day.

CMD Chief Executive Officer Njeri Kabeberi said making amendments to allow party hopping will water down election rules intended to identify parties by their political manifestos and what they stand for.

“The movement now if it is allowed, means we will just be electing individuals and not political parties. Although I know MPs are busy trying to change the law, it is not in the national interest for people to continue party hopping until the last minute. My prayer is that Parliament does not succeed in amending the law,” she asserted.

She told Capital FM News that MPs will be selfish to amend the law to suit their political interests at the risk of frustrating efforts to build strong parties that reflect are issue based.

She further expressed fears that reckless movements as the country gets nearer to elections are likely to provoke divisions and strong political differences that may disturb the peace of the country.

For Kabeberi, the law was put in place to prevent past mistakes that led to deep political divisions.

She was also concerned that free movement from party to party is likely to spur ethnic divisions as leaders will abandon parties that they think do not enjoy support from communities they come from.

“If your interest is only power, and if your interest is only to seek support of ethnic groups then you are going to keep rushing whenever your ethnic group looks stronger in political parties. If it is changed we ought to be fearful as a nation that we are not going to deal with this ethnic politics as we have been trying to do,” she warned.

She advised MPs to scrutinise why such a law was first created before rushing to amend it. She also warned them against making the Political Parties Act irrelevant saying it will be suicidal to the spirit of the constitution which has even established institutions like the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

“It will be making the Act irrelevant because why did you join a political party… why is it that a membership list has to be submitted by the 31st of April for political parties to be registered. This will even put a challenge to parties that are registered,” she asserted.

She urged MPs to ensure that Kenyans will have a chance to identify political parties, their manifestos, what they advocate to end the idea of them looking at parties in terms of individuals.

Her remarks came as the debate on the Elections (Amendment) Bill was going on in Parliament. Some MPs want the amendment to pass so that they can be allowed to continue hopping to parties of their choice.


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