Inside Uhuru, Raila grand coalition plans

Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga aim to have 2022 coalition by February

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga have set in motion a legislative plan geared towards having a fully registered coalition by February.

Besides a raft of proposed amendments to electoral laws currently before the National Assembly, the Nation has learnt that there are plans to accelerate the process so as to have the coalition, on whose tickets their allies hope to vie for various seats, ready at least six months to the August 2022 General Election.

The two leaders intend to achieve that by amending the Political Parties Act, 2011 to provide for a coalition party.

To demonstrate the urgency of the formation of the grand coalition, the Political Parties (Amendments) Bill, 2021 seeks to provide that a Coalition Political Party should deposit a pre-election agreement with the Registrar of Political Parties at least six months to the polls.

Public servants who are eyeing various political seats are also expected to formally resign at least six months to the next elections.

Currently, parties forming a coalition are required to deposit with the Registrar of Political Parties their coalition agreements three months before the elections.

“Section 10 of the Principal Act is amended by adding the following sub-section… provided that in the case of a coalition political party, the coalition political party shall submit the coalition agreement at least six months before the general elections,” the proposed amendments read.

The current Political Parties Act, 2011, which is now set to be amended, stipulates that the coalition agreement shall be deposited three months before elections.

“A coalition agreement entered into before an election shall be deposited with the Registrar at least three months before that election,” reads the current Act.

The proposed changes also seek to exempt the expected coalition political party from the rigorous processes of political parties’ registration.

Provisional registration

The amendments have entirely deleted the provision in sections five and six of the current political parties Act, 2011, which means the coalition political party envisaged by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga will be deemed to be fully registered upon depositing the coalition agreement in February.

Currently, the law provides that an association of persons or organisations applying to be registered as a political party may apply to the Registrar for provisional registration.

The Registrar shall then, within 30 days of the association or organisation fulfilling the conditions prescribed in Section 6, issue that association or organisation with a certificate of provisional registration.

The party is then required to – within 180 days from the date of provisional registration – apply to the registrar for full registration.

The registrar should then, within seven days of receipt of an application, publish a notice in the gazette and in at least two newspapers with nationwide circulation, inviting objections from any person or any other political party concerning the registration of the name, symbol or colours of the party or any other issue relating to the registration of the political party.

But the proposed amendments now seek to quash that entire registration process.

“The registrar shall, upon the deposit of a coalition agreement for the formation of a coalition political party, issue the coalition political party with a certificate of full registration,” reads the new amendments.

The proposed amendments also seek to entirely change how parties will share political parties’ funds by reviewing the percentages that parties should pocket for their activities.

Currently, the law states that the Political Parties Fund shall be distributed as follows— 95 per cent of the fund should be shared proportionately with reference to the total number of votes secured by each political party in the preceding general election; and five per cent for the administration expenses of the fund.

However, in the proposed amendments, 70 per cent of the fund will be proportionately shared with regard to the total number of votes secured by each political party in the preceding general election.

Registered office bearers

The amendments propose that 15 per cent of the funds should be shared proportionately among political parties based on the number of special interest candidates that the party will field in the general election and 10 per cent of the funds will be shared based on the number of representatives that will be elected from a political party. The remaining five per cent should cater for administration expenses of the fund.

However, parties whose two-thirds of registered office bearers are of the same gender or do not have a special interest representative in the governing council will not be entitled to benefit from the fund.

Further, parties with no elected governor, ward rep, member of the National Assembly or senator will also be locked out of the fund.

The Bill has already undergone the first reading and now Kenyans have been invited to present their views before debate.

During the introduction of the Bill for first reading by majority leader Amos Kimunya, Garissa Township lawmaker Aden Duale termed it “poison to members”.

“I want members to read this Bill carefully during recess and understand it. This Bill is a poison and I hope we will not be called for a special sitting to discuss it,” Mr Duale said.

Sources within Parliament told the Nation that President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga are keen on the passage of the bill before Christmas and that a special sitting will be held on December 21 and 22 to consider it.

The two leaders have already told their troops to ensure that the amendments are passed without introducing any further amendments that might dilute the intended purpose.

The National Assembly is currently on recess and will resume sitting in January 25.

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