Kenya: Lawmakers now free to switch parties without losing seats

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President assents to Bill allowing politicians to switch outfits without losing seats.

 

ByPETER LEFTIE
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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday cleared the way for political party mergers after he assented to a Bill allowing politicians to switch outfits without losing their seats.

By signing the Political Parties Amendment Bill 2016, the President gave political outfits supporting his Jubilee administration the go-ahead to merge into one.

The small ceremony at State House, Nairobi, coincided with a meeting of officials of several parties allied to the ruling coalition to fast-track their merger into the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP).

MAIN PARTNERS IN COALITION

Senior politicians linked to President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been grappling with the merger of the two main partners in the coalition, The National Alliance and the United Republican Party, as well as small outfits such as the Alliance Party of Kenya, the United Democratic Forum, New Ford Kenya, and Chama Cha Uzalendo.

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The new law allows political parties to merge by either forming a new outfit or being absorbed by an already registered one.

It also cushions members of the merging parties against losing their seats following the dissolution of the outfits that sponsored them.

“Where a party merges, a member of the political party that has merged with another shall be deemed to be a member of the new political party,” says the law.

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“Despite sub-section (7), a member who is a president, deputy president, governor or deputy governor, a member of Parliament or member of a county assembly and who does not desire to be a member of the new political party registered after the merger shall continue to serve in such elected office for the remainder of the term and may join another political party or choose to be an independent member within 30 days of the registration of the new party.”

This means rebel Jubilee coalition members led by Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, his Meru counterpart Peter Munya, Narok Senator Stephen ole Ntutu, and MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi North) will retain their seats despite the dissolution of their parties.

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Other MPs who will not be affected by the likely dissolution of their party to join JAP include the United Democratic Forum’s Ayub Savula (Lugari), Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale) Alfred Sambu (Webuye East), Alfred Agoi (Sabatia), and Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga), and Vihiga Senator George Khaniri.

They have denounced the party and backed Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress.

The desire to form JAP has been in the pipeline since last year but has been affected by lack of legislation that would see the process effected.

 

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