Court rejects case by governors, says no to party hopping

April 26, 2017 5:31 pm
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The Council of Governors argued the restriction on party hopping violated democratic rights/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26 – Politicians who lose during the ongoing party primaries will only be on the ballot come August 8 as independent candidates and not through defection to other parties.

This is after Justice Chacha Mwita dismissed a case by the Council of Governors contesting a section of the amended Elections Laws that prohibits party hopping.

Noting that the amended laws provide that a person shall not be a member of more than one political party at the same time, Justice Mwita said the same does not bar the petitioners from participating in the elections as independent candidates.

According to the judge, Section 28 of the Amended Act is necessary in a democratic society to ensure proper preparation and management of the electoral process.

He went on to say that the law requiring political parties to file a list of party members within a set time frame prior to a general election or by-elections is necessary to the integrity of the electoral process.

An individual who is not sufficiently nominated, justice Mwita said can only shift his allegiance to another party within the time frame spelt out by the IEBC.

“I find that the petitioners have failed to demonstrate that the challenged section is unconstitutional or in any manner infringes any provisions of the Constitution,” he ruled.

The governors’ umbrella body had argued that whereas a person may have 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 within the nomination time-frame.

The CoG faulted the law arguing that its restriction to political freedoms is wholly disproportionate in an open and democratic society.

They argued that the amendments a political party was capable of submitting the name of a nominee at least 45 days before the date of the General Election hence sufficient time for aspirants in political offices to pick and choose parties of their preference to run in the elections with.

Under the amended law, a political party is now required to submit its list of party members to the IEBC six months days before an 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 argued.

If implemented as it is, CoG told the court that the effect will create a lock up of names and limit genuine and warranted political defection which is a characteristic of any multiparty democracy.

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