alexa Kenyan MPs can now defect at will - Daily Nation

Kenyan MPs can now defect at will

Wednesday June 20 2012

MPs passed changes to the Political Parties Act to allow MPs and councillors to defect from their political parties and still retain their seats. Photo/FILE

MPs passed changes to the Political Parties Act to allow MPs and councillors to defect from their political parties and still retain their seats. Photo/FILE 

By NJERI RUGENE [email protected]

MPs can now freely hop from one political party to another and still secure their parliamentary seats.

MPs passed changes to the Political Parties Act to allow MPs and councillors to defect from their political parties and still retain their seats.

But the House rejected proposals by Chepalungu  MP Isaac Ruto to allow presidential candidates and the deputy presidents to also contest in other elective positions even as they seek the top seat.

Mr Ruto wanted changes to the Elections Act to provide that incase a presidential candidate and the deputy win in their bid for the top seat, they can forfeit the lesser position.

However, the amendments were unanimously rejected by the House with MPs who sat late into the night to debate changes to the Statute law Miscellaneous Bill dismissing it as unconstitutional and unnecessary.

The contentious amendments to allow defections were approved during an acrimonious debate pitting ODM MPs allied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga who vehemently opposed the changes, against the others who were the majority.

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Temporary Speaker Dr Joyce Laboso had a difficult time controlling the rowdy MPs which saw Nominated ODM MP Rachel Shebesh thrown out for misconduct.

Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto (ODM) successfully proposed an amendment to section 22 of the Elections Act 2011 to provide that a presidential candidate and the deputy be eligible for nomination and also contest in any other elective seat in the next elections.

Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi's amendments seeking to have MPs defect to other parties without losing their parliamentary parties was approved by the House.  

Mr Musyimi, a PNU MP with presidential ambitions under the Democratic Party proposed to amend the Political Parties Act and suspend until after the next elections, requirements that any MP or councillor who defects to another
party other than the one sponsoring the politician to Parliament or Local Authority resign and by extension, seek a fresh mandate.

Mr Musyimi in defending his move, argued that the country was in transition that the law, which he described as "very good" should be suspended until after the next elections to also give the nation time to heal from the 2007/2008 polls violence trauma.

"Politicians have already made up their minds on where they want to be in the next elections and they must be allowed to do so without such hindrances," Mr Musyimi said.
According to the Gachoka MP, it is also important that Kenyans accept the reality that more than half of the MPs in the current Parliament have moved to other parties and the country would not be able to fund a mini election that would be occasioned if the more than 100 seats were to be declared vacant.
Siakago MP Lenny Kivuti (Safina) proposed further amendments to the same sections as Mr Musyimi, asking that the President,  Prime Minister, deputy prime ministers, and the current MPs and serving councillors be allowed to defect to other parties while retaining their seats.
Mr Kivuti also suggested that the new changes should only be effective until after the General Election.

Mr Mutava and Mr Kivuti had proposed changes to section 14 (5-7) of the Political Parties Act, 2011.

It states: "A person who, while being a member of more than one political party at the same time, forms another political party, joins in the formation of another political party, joins another political party, in anyway or manner, publicly advocates for the formation of another political party or promotes the ideology, interests or policies of another political party, shall be deemed to have resigned from the previous political party."

But the proposals were vehemently rejected by ODM MPs who accused their counterparts behind the amendments of using the amendment law to entrench their selfish interests.

Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba read to the House a letter from the chairman of the Constitutional Implementation Commission Mr Charles Nyachae to House Speaker Kenneth Marende informing him that the commission would move to court to block the amendments which he argued were unconstitutional.

Mr Namwamba cited Musyimi's proposals as an example of the "offensive" unconstitutional amendments and asked the Speaker makes a ruling on the matter.

Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed who chairs the committee that supervises implementation of the constitution (CIOC) dismissed Mr Nyache's bid saying it was not the responsibility of CIC to supervise Parliament.
"The worst the chair of CIC can do is to demonstrate his illiteracy of the Constitution to this Parliament. let us not use technicalities to stop things we do not want," said Mr Mohammed.

Gem MP Jakoyo and his Gwasi colleague also opposed the amendments accusing their colleagues of taking Kenyans and the Constitution for granted.