Uhuru signs new law allowing politicians to merge parties

Thursday June 30 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the 2016 Appropriations Act and the Political Parties (Amendment) Act into law at State House in Nairobi on June 30, 2016.

President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the 2016 Appropriations Act and the Political Parties (Amendment) Act into law at State House in Nairobi on June 30, 2016. Watching, from right, are Deputy President William Ruto, National Assembly Speaker Justus Muturi, Majority Leader Aden Duale, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Solicitor-General Njee Muturi. PHOTO | PSCU 

PETER LEFTIE
By PETER LEFTIE
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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday assented to several Bills, among them the Political Parties (Amendment) Act and the Appropriations Act 2016.

The head of state signed a Bill authorising the national government to draw money from the Consolidated Fund to finance its operations for the balance of the last financial year.

Mr Kenyatta's action came only a few hours before the financial year lapsed.

The President also signed another law giving the Treasury the authority to draw money from the Consolidated Fund to pay for public services in the new financial year, which starts Thursday.

“The President signed the Appropriations Act 2016, that allows the National Treasury to issue out of the Consolidated Fund to spend in the year ending 30 June 2017,” said State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu in a statement.

“This Act essentially paves the way for government spending for the next financial year and is effective 1 July 2017,” he wrote.

PARTY MERGERS

The Political Parties (Amendment) Act that Mr Kenyatta signed into law on Thursday provides a roadmap for the merger of political parties.

The new law gives political parties the green light to merge and also allows them freedom to switch parties without losing their seats.

Politicians allied to President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have been grappling with the merger of numerous parties supporting the Jubilee coalition, including The National Alliance (TNA), the United Republican Party (URP), the Alliance Party of Kenya (APK), the United Democratic Forum (UDF), New Ford Kenya and Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU).

The new law now allows a political party to merge with another by either forming a new outfit or merging into an already registered party.

Moreover, it cushions members of the merging parties against losing their seats following the dissolution of the platforms that sponsored them.

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

“Despite subsection (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 thirty days of the registration of the new party,” it further reads.

BRIEFCASE PARTIES

It means Jubilee coalition rebel 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) and many others would retain their seats despite the dissolution of their parties.

Besides the changes in the merger clauses, the new law also provides that a political party shall stand deregistered if it does not field candidates in two consecutive general elections. The law seems to target briefcase political parties that never field candidates in elections yet continue to exist.

The law also gives the President powers to appoint the Registrar of Political Parties or the Deputy Registrar of Political Parties from the names submitted to him by the Public Service Commission.

(Editing by Joel Muinde and Henry Gekonde)