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Heated debate as MPs discuss coalitions

NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 17- Members of Parliament on Tuesday made drastic changes to the Political Parties Bill as grand coalition partners ODM and PNU took opposing positions on when political mergers should be made.

ODM wants all coalition pacts made before elections to be outlawed while the PNU and rebel ODM MPs allied to suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto supported a law that allows for parties to make coalitions before elections.

At the centre of the storm is the proposal by the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee to delete the entire Clause 10 of the Bill, which provides for the formation of coalitions.

The amendment which was introduced by Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro and was supported by Gichugu MP Martha Karua was defeated after an acrimonious debate.

In opposing the amendment, PNU Secretary General Kiraitu Murungi said that the Constitution recognises coalitions. Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo however attacked some of those supporting the deletion of the clause saying they are motivated by the fact that coalitions are no longer convenient for them.

While supporting the deletion of the clause, Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba said: “To purport to tell us that you can have a cocktail of political ideologies prior to the election can only amount to political infidelity and not freedom of political association. We must avoid the tendency to legislate for what is good for now, I want to plead let us address ourselves to fundamental issues.”

The controversial Clause 10 had provided that a pre-election coalition must be lodged with the Registrar of Political Parties at least six months prior to an election. It did not provide for a post-election coalition arrangement.

Some MPs supporting the deletion tried without success to have a division after voting by acclamation which would have necessitated that the MPs cast a secret vote, but they failed to raise the required 23 members to force the division.

The House later supported an amendment introduced by Mr Murungi to provide that a coalition agreement entered into before an election shall be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties at least three months before the election.

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It also proposes that a coalition agreement entered into after an election shall be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties within twenty-one days of signing of the coalition agreement.

MPs opposed to the proposal by Mr Murungi claimed that the Political Parties Bill had been grossly distorted.

“We would rather not have had a Political Parties Bill and I will be moving an amendment to the title so that we call it the G-7 Bill,” protested Ms Karua.

“What we are doing is what PNU has been doing, eating its own children and then adopting those of her neighbours,” said Kimilili MP Simiyu Eseli.

The House also passed an amendment allowing MPs, whose parties merge to form one party to be independent candidates or join other parties.

Debate on the amendment to the Bill continues on Wednesday as the House rose before conclusion of Committee Stage.


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