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PNU tries to strengthen itself

NAIROBI, July 18 – The Party of National Unity (PNU) is considering accommodating both individual and corporate membership in its efforts to strengthen the party ahead of the 2012 elections, coordinating Chairman Noah Wekesa said on Thursday.

Speaking after chairing the first committee meeting Wekesa told journalists that the committee hoped to reach a final decision on the membership debate on Monday.

Wekesa assured: “The objective is actually to form PNU as a political party but we are also been democratic and we recognize the importance of having people to express their wishes.”

The meeting was a follow up of a top level meeting chaired by President Kibaki on Tuesday which ended in disarray after officials failed to reach consensus on the unity agenda.

The 15 member committee was constituted to spearhead efforts to collate the affiliates into one formidable party and guide it to comply with the political parties act ahead of the deadline in December.

KANU, FORD Kenya, Safina, DP, Ford Asili, Grand National Union and ODM Kenya were among the parties that had sent representatives to the Thursday meeting. Another key affiliate NARK Kenya didn’t send a representative having announced on Wednesday that it was going it alone.

Speaking after the meeting PNU spokesman George Nyamweya said the party was on course in complying with the political parties act but noted that the affiliates were at liberty to comply with the act on their own.

“Our main objective is to first see that PNU complies with the act. Those parties that want to comply with the act on their own are welcome to do so; we are not going to crash with anyone on that,”

Wekesa however cautioned small parties on going it alone on the act.

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“The act is going to haunt some people. It is very strict in various ways and you are going to see games being played. The act is going to decide which is going to be a strong political party in future,” the chairman intimated.

Siakago MP Lenny Kivuti who represented Safina Party however cautioned that the bid to unite the party should be consultative and taken slowly.

“We want to move together but to be together is not a one stop thing, it’s a process within itself which has to include the sentiments of every party that is involved,” he said.

The party has called off a planned Friday parliamentary group meeting to allow for a conclusive engagement on the issue. The committee meets again on Monday.

Opposition to the president’s call for a united party is highly anchored on the fight to succeed him when he retires in 2012 with a number of cabinet ministers eyeing the seat. Parties that have resisted dissolving are hinted to be political vehicles in waiting for the ministers.

Representing ODM K in the Thursday Kangundo Mp Johnstone Muthama hinted that his party was ready to dissolve in favour of PNU.

“ODM K is the first to say that we do not want small parties. If this meeting decides to pick PNU as one movement party that is what will be adopted by members,” Muthama said.

Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi who has been in the frontline for a united PNU in the meantime distanced himself from the NARK Kenya party.

“I was elected in a PNU ticket, so for now Kiraitu Murungi is no longer a member of NARK Kenya,” Kiraitu reiterated. 

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The political parties act was drafted last year and came in to effect this July and requires parties to show a nation wide network to qualify for registration. Each party must have well defined national leadership structures and offices in every district.

The party’s governing body must include members of all provinces and at least one third of the leadership positions is to be reserved for women. Under the new law a powerful office of the Registrar of Political Parties will be established under the Electoral Commission.

Parties will also be funded from the public kitty on the basis of their strength in Parliament.


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