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Youth MPs, civil society urge campaign financing reform to promote fair play in politics

Kenya Youth Parliamentarians Association (KYPA) Executive Director Antony Buluma (pictured) noted that the MPs Caucus has made significant strides in advocating for regulations which he said are sensitive to their demographic/FILE – KYPA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 1 – Youth parliamentarians have vowed to push for the implementation of the Election Campaign Financing Regulations as they push to create a level playing field for youth and women candidates.

Kenya Youth Parliamentarians Association (KYPA) Executive Director Antony Buluma noted that the MPs Caucus has made significant strides in advocating for regulations which he said are sensitive to their demographic.

Speaking during the launch of two reports on the inclusion and participation of youth and women in the Eleventh and Current (12th) Parliament on Thursday, he decried the lack of political goodwill to support reforms in campaign financing.

“Even in conversion that is coming including the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), we would really identify with conversations that actually secure the space for young people. Outside that I would authoritatively say the young MPs would not be comfortable with any conversation that works towards reducing the number of young people in Parliament because we believe that our past is our wisdom, our present is our weapon and our future is our purpose,” Buluma stated.

His remarks came against the backdrop of a report conducted by the Mzalendo Trust which cited the high cost of election, lack of the stated support and skewed political party primaries as top impediments to the participation of women and youth in elective politics.

Lead Researcher Sylvia Katua said the report established that the number of youths nominated to parliament between 2013 and 2017 dropped by 50 percent.

“Young elected MPs dropped from 31 to 27, while Nominated MPs dropped from 10 to 5. This shows unless compelled, political parties will not give priority to the nomination of the youth as MPs,” she explained.

Young MPs, according to the report, had so far sponsored a total of 17 Bills in the 12th Parliament; with Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot leading with 5 Bills followed by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja with 3 Bills and Nandi Senator Samson Cherarkey with 2 Bills.

Embakasi West MP George Theuri leads with the number of petitions filed (5) in the current Parliament.

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He is followed by Cherarkey with three, Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, Simba Arati (Dagoretti South), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Nixon Korir (Langata), and Patrick Ntwiga (Chuka/Igambang’ombe) follow with two petition each.

“Compared to the same period during the 11th Parliament, Youth MPs have done much better in sponsoring legislation despite their lower numbers,” the Mzalendo Trust report noted.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka called for the fast tracking of the Representation of Special Interest Groups (Amendment) Bill which is currently before the House.

Lusaka who was represented at the event by Senate Majority Whip Susan Kihika said the Bill will pave way for the implementation of constitutional provisions aimed at promoting representation of youth and women in Parliament.

“The number of youth and women in Parliament remains pretty low against a global comparison. In addition, young people, both men and women below the age of 30, are not actively seeking elective posts, thus denying Parliament the diversity needed.”

“The inclusion and participation of women and youth cannot be realized by Parliament alone. I call upon other actors, especially political parties to put in place mechanisms and incentives for increased participation and inclusion of these two groups,” the Senate Speaker said.

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