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Reprieve for politicians as legal inconsistencies allow party hopping

Taita Taveta Woman Represetative Joyce Lay is received into the Jubilee Party by President Uhuru Kenyatta after defecting from ODM/PSCU

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – Politicians can still join another party even after losing their respective party nominations, due to discrepancies between the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) timelines.

National Assembly Justice and Legal Committee Samuel Chepkonga made the revelation during his committee’s meeting with the electoral body, when he said IEBC had rendered their amendment void after it declared the party nominations should be conducted April 13 and April 26 instead of May 7.

“Their timelines allow party hopping, so you have let us down. You know the anticipation is that we wanted to conduct the party nominations on May 7 but yours provide April 26, now that is completely outside what the law provides in terms of the 90 days,” Chepkonga explained.

The changes to the Bill require parties to carry out their nominations at least 60 days to the elections rather than the 45 allowed currently.

Politicians would also be forced to choose their parties at least 90 days to the elections, with the Elections Act being changed to make it mandatory for parties to submit lists of their members to the 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.

Mbura, a Jubilee nominated Senator defected to Maendeleo Chap Chap last month/CFM NEWS

Governors have already moved to the High Court challenging a law that puts caps on hopping after political party nominations.

The Council of Governors has 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.

The law barring politicians from ditching parties after losing in the nominations has triggered a wave of defections countrywide.

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Aspirants are opting for smaller parties, where they are assured of direct nomination.

Parties like Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap-Chap, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani and former Justice Minister Martha Karua’s NARC-Kenya have been the major beneficiaries while the President’s Jubilee Party and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have suffered several high profile casualties.


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