Jubilee to tame party-hoppers in new plan

Thursday September 1 2016

Deputy President William Ruto with a section of Jubilee MPs who attended a Parliamentary Group meeting at his official residence on August 31, 2016. PHOTO | DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto with a section of Jubilee MPs who attended a Parliamentary Group meeting at his official residence on August 31, 2016. PHOTO | DPPS 

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Jubilee lawmakers who support party-hopping will be kicked out of the party.

The resolution was reached at a parliamentary group meeting convened by Deputy President William Ruto in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Lawmakers affiliated to the coalition met at Mr Ruto’s official residence at Karen and agreed to support a change to the existing electoral laws to bar contestants from changing parties after losing nominations.

The provision on party-hopping, however, met resistance in the National Assembly last evening after MPs opposed to it asked for its deletion from a Bill before the House.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi will this morning rule on whether changes can be made to the Bill.

Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch  leads MPs from both sides opposed to the restrictions on party-hopping.

At Mr Ruto’s residence, Jubilee lawmakers agreed not to accommodate MPs, senators, governors or other contestants who will go against the agreed position.

To stop its members from jumping ship after primaries, the MPs requested that nominations of all political parties participating in the next elections be conducted on the same day by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

They also want the government to provide funds for the nominations as opposed to individual parties paying.

This is meant to consolidate support for the Jubilee Party that is set to be launched next week.

During the meeting, the lawmakers were asked by Mr Ruto to support a Bill that seeks to curb change of parties after nominations that was proposed by a Joint Select Committee on electoral reform.

The lawmakers agreed to use the party’s numerical advantage to adopt the Bill in both Houses.

Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi, who co-chaired the committee with  Siaya Senator James Orengo, attended the meeting and confirmed that the lawmakers had agreed to stop party-hopping by law.

The legislators were informed that failure to pass the Bill would go against the spirit of the merger.

“It is the intention of the President and his deputy that we have one party that unites all of us. Party-hopping will destroy all that if it is allowed,” said Mr Murungi.

MPs at the meeting told the Nation that the decision to bar change of parties was unanimous despite reservations by some coalition members.

“We are not going to allow anybody to come to the Jubilee nominations with another party in the pocket. If someone wants to hop they should do so before nominations,” said Fafi MP Barre Shill.

They said those who would not accept the coalition’s position would be asked to quit.

“It is time to strengthen our parties. By the time you join Jubilee you agree to be part of the family. We have agreed that there is no party-hopping,” said Meru Woman Representative Florence Kajuju, a member of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

In the House, Mr Aluoch was heckled by Jubilee MPs when he objected.

'GIRLFRIENDS AND BOYFRIENDS'

Temporary Speaker Christopher Omulele said the matter would be handled before the Third Reading, the point at which changes to a law are debated and voted on.

Said Mr Aluoch: “A thorough and clear reading of clauses eight to 12 of the Bill shows that a member who is dissatisfied with the nominations or wishes to stand as an independent candidate cannot do so. He is locked in.”

Debate on the Bill was started by Majority Leader Aden Duale, who argued that the increase of the period before the elections for the submission of the names of nominated candidates would give parties time to resolve nomination disputes.

“We don’t want the girlfriends and boyfriends of the party officials or those whose wallets are fat. We know this game that parties play. Sometimes you lose because someone’s girlfriend wants to come to this House,” said Mr Duale.

Ms Millie Odhiambo (Mbita, ODM) said: “In principle, I do not support party-hopping. Because of that I wish we had concurrent laws promoting democracy in parties. I’m very happy we provided a timeline within which parties submit names but I wish that within that mechanism we had ways to resolve disputes.”