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Deadline looms, party noose spells doom

NAIROBI, November 28 – Threatened with deregistration, major political parties are struggling to beat the December 31axe set by the Political Parties Act.

The parties have in recent weeks kicked off nationwide recruitment drives and scheduled National Delegates Conferences to ensure they meet all the conditions of the Act.

Narc-Kenya was the first to meet the requirements after holding national elections and is now filing its final reports.

Before being registered anew by the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) existing political parties must prove that they have 200 registered members in each of the eight provinces and one founder member in every district.

In addition, the party must have a national headquarters and offices in every district. They are also required to pay a Sh500, 000-registration fee besides having a national outlook and a third of its officials being of an opposite gender.

Following Narc-Kenya’s lead was the Kenya African National Union – KANU (Kenya’s Grand Old Party) whose delegates converged in Nairobi on Thursday to amend their party constitution. The party also filled top posts in its hierarchy that had been left vacant by defections in the run-up to last year’s general elections.

The Orange Democratic Movement Kenya (ODM-K) is scheduled to hold its National Delegates Conference  this weekend, while ODM and the Party of National Unity (PNU) have planed grass roots and national elections in December.

While the larger parties engage in last-minute efforts to comply with the Act, smaller outfits are finding it hard to meet the necessary requirement (which is entirely the purpose of the Act, to champion structured political parties).

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Chama cha Uzalendeo (CCU) which has two Members of Parliament (MP), Wavinya Ndeti (Kathiani) and Gitobu Imanyara (Central Imenti) have taken the government to court, arguing that the Act is discriminating between the haves and have-nots.

ECK Chairman Samuel Kivuitu had in September expressed doubt that many of the political parties would be able to achieve the requirements – not on account of their lack of support amongst Kenyans, but mainly due to inadequate finances.

“It costs a great deal to canvas for members across the nation. It therefore might be prudent for some of these political parties to merge under one name and constitution,” he had suggested.

The ECK Chairman had indicated that a 180-day notice of compliance given in July would not be extended unless a party had been registered under the Societies Act.

Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndungu on Wednesday indicated that only two parties had submitted their registration applications and only 20 out of the 168 registered parties had given their constitutions.


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