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Thirdway officials sue Aukot over Punguza Mizigo funding

Thursday February 20 2020

Thirdway Alliance party leader Ekuru Aukot

Thirdway Alliance leader Ekuru Aukot talking at the party's headquarters in Lavington, Nairobi County, on February 17, 2020, during the re-launch of the Punguza Mizigo initiative. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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Thirdway Alliance party leaders on Thursday dragged their boss to court, seeking to suspend his Punguza Mizigo initiative and demanding to know the source of its funding.

Deputy party leader Angela Nyalita, Deputy Secretary-General Phelister Wughanga and National Women Caucus chair Hilda Gachachi sued Dr Ekuru Aukot, their party and the office of the Registrar of Political Parties.

They accused Dr Aukot of failing to disclose the source of funding for the project whose aim is to have the constitution amended.

RISKS

In their filed case documents, the three said this failure violates the Political Parties Act and puts their reputations at risk.

“The petitioners aver that the actions of Dr Aukot are injurious to their interests as members of the party, their reputation and their legal standing, for being contrary to not only constitutive documents but also the Political Parties Act, the Constitution, among other regulations,” said their lawyer Caroline Oduor.

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“Dr Aukot and the Thirdway Alliance should be either jointly or severally restrained from conducting or continuing any unlawful initiative for the amendment of the Constitution in the name and style of Punguza Mizigo until this matter is heard as well as determined.”

SIGNATURES

The initiative kicked off in May 2018 with collection of signatures from the members of the public in support of the amendment bill.

In May 2019, the project was submitted to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for verification.

In July 2019, the IEBC approved signatures and forwarded the proposal to county assemblies for debate.

However, that same month, the Building Bridges Initiative Taskforce released its own recommendations on amendments to the Constitution.

The BBI resulted from the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.

While the BBI has elicited much political support publicly, Punguza Mizigo has been rejected by several county assemblies yet they both relate to amending the Constitution.

MAIN ISSUE

The Thirdway leaders say the bone of contention stems from the fact that the initiative was duly passed by the National Executive Council of their party yet Dr Aukot declined to respond to funding queries at a meeting in January.

They are also faulting him of attempting to introduce Punguza Mizigo Kenya, a second initiative just this month which would consequently be in competition with BBI.

They are further accusing the office of the Registrar of the Political Parties of failing to discharge its duty of ensuring publication of audited accounts in compliance with the law.

They want it declared Dr Aukot is under obligation to account for the party’s source of funds to finance the said project which itself is unlawful.