Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marende rejects objections to Parties Bill

The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende has rejected objections raised to controversial amendments to the Political Parties Bill August 23, 2011. FILE

The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende has rejected objections raised to controversial amendments to the Political Parties Bill August 23, 2011. FILE 

By JOHN NGIRACHU jngirachu@ke.nationmedia.com

The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende has rejected objections raised to controversial amendments to the Political Parties Bill on the basis that they are contrary to the Constitution.

Mr Marende ruled that the amendments introduced last week should stand and that debate on the Bill meant to instill discipline within political parties should go ahead.

MPs Olago Aluoch, Martha Karua and Dr Eseli Simiyu had on Wednesday raised objections to the Bill that provided for the formation of coalitions before and after an election.

The amendments were introduced and pushed through by MPs allied to Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, also referred to as the G7 alliance.

Ms Karua had accused the MPs of “cannibalising” the bill and has suggested an amendment to the title of the Bill to have it changed to “The G Seven (Political Parties) Bill, 2011.”  

Article 10 of the Bill proposes formation of coalitions before elections and the MPs had argued that this was contrary to Article 108 of the Constitution.

But the Speaker was of a different view.

“Article 108 has no provisions that can be said to disallow parties from coming together in a coalition at any time,” said Mr Marende.

He also contended that since Article 85, which provides for independent candidates, does not state a time limit for party-hopping, Parliament would not do so.

“This Article only addresses itself to persons wishing to contest elections as independent candidates and has no relevance either to the period of notice required of a person to move from one party to another or when a coalition of parties may be formed,” said Mr Marende.

“The distinction needs to be drawn between provisions which are unconstitutional and those which a member may find objectionable, or in his or her view, unprogressive,” said Mr Marende.

He effectively ruled that by failing to convince the rest of the MPs to support them when the amendments were initially proposed, those opposed to the amendments had lost the match.  

Those who oppose the amendments would however have a last chance to reinstate the original amendments suggested by the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee when the Third Reading is ended.

The CIOC is understood to have agreed to insist that their suggested amendments be restored.

CIOC had argued that having pre-election coalitions would be a recipe for political uncertainty and yield unstable governments.

It had also reasoned that coalitions should be formed after elections as parties intending to work together should merge, and lose their individual identities, rather than maintain them in coalitions.

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