NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – The Council of Governors has moved to court challenging a law that puts caps on hopping after political party nominations.
The governors have faulted sections of the elections law, arguing that its restriction to political freedoms is wholly disproportionate in an open and democratic society.
The county chiefs contend that Section 28 of the amended Elections Act limits the freedom of association and the liberty of making political choices by Kenyans as provided in the Constitution.
“If implemented as it is, the effect will create a lock up of names and limit genuine and warranted political defection which is a characteristic of any multiparty democracy,” the Council of Governors argued through lawyer Henry Wanyama.
Under the Election Amendment Law, which was enacted last month, a political party is now required to submit its list of party members to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), at least 90 days to the date of the General Election.
With the next elections slated for August 2017, this means that the lists should be submitted by the beginning of May.
Before the amendment, a political party was capable of submitting the name of a nominee at least 45 days before the date of the elections.
The changes to the polls legislation require parties to carry out their nominations at least 60 days to the elections rather than the 45 allowed currently.
As a result, the governors say that a member of a political party whose name has been submitted within this duration cannot resign from that party and join another one before the gazette deadline for political party primaries.
It is their argument that whereas a person may have has genuine justifiable and warranted reasons for defection, he or she cannot exercise the constitutional political freedom to resign and join another political party for election.
“The mischief created by the amendment is that those dissatisfied with the outcome of party primaries or nominations will not be able to defect to another political party,” they stated.