9 April 2012

Kenya: Uhuru to Lose Grip Over Kanu This Saturday

Uhuru Kenyatta's sweeping powers as the Kanu chairman are about to come to an abrupt end this Saturday when a faction led by vice chairman Gideon Moi and secretary general Nick Salat adopt the party's new constitution.

In what is seen as a well calculated plot to officially eject Uhuru from Kanu, the Gideon faction is poised to conduct fresh party elections from grassroots to national level without seeking Uhuru's official approval or input.

The proposed constitution, which the Special National Delegates Conference convened by Salat plans to ratify, has stripped Uhuru of powers to issue directions over recruitment drives.

Instead, the powers have been transferred to the office of the party's secretary general and the national organising secretary. And to ensure the success of the plan, Uhuru has been stripped off the powers to nullify or withhold the declaration of results of any branch or sub branch.

The powers to order fresh elections have also been taken away, together with powers to appoint a committee to run the affairs of party organs where necessary. All these powers were bestowed in the chairman under the old party constitution that the special NDC plans to abolish on Saturday at Kasarani Sports Complex in Nairobi.

According to Salat, the agenda of the NDC will be to consider and ratify the Kanu Constitution to ensure compliance with Kenya's new constitution, the Political Parties Act (2011) and the National Elections Act (2011). Salat said the NDC was called after the Kanu National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of March 30 under Article 13 Clause 2(c) and pursuant to the provisions of Article 11 clause 4 (b) of the party constitution.

The Star has learnt the plan is to endorse the new constitution, dash to present the papers to the Registrar of Political Parties in a bid to comply with the Political Parties Act by the April 30 deadline and then conduct elections from grassroots to national level where Uhuru will be voted out.

In the new Kanu constitution, the secretary general has been empowered to head the secretariat, convene a NEC meeting which will have powers to order an NDC or National Governing Council (NGC).

The old constitution says such meetings can only be presided over by the chairman "unless he is prevented by illness or other sufficient cause." While the old constitution stated that an NDC shall meet annually at a place and time to be decided by NEC or the national chairman, the new constitution has removed this power from the chairman leaving it to NEC only to decide. The old constitution allowed the chairman to convene a Special NDC any time to deal with urgent matters. The new has transferred that power the party's National Governing Council.

Also removed are the chairman's powers to convert an NDC, or Special NDC into a Presidential Nomination Council or into an Annual Delegates Conference for election of national officials. The chairman has been stripped off the powers to preside over the meetings of the Party Parliamentary Group.

Yesterday, Uhuru's faction maintained that the planned NDC is an illegal gathering and hence cannot endorse the proposed constitution.

Kanu organising secretary Justin Muturi maintained that current party constitution has been violated to convene the Saturday NDC. He said the NEC meeting convened a fortnight ago by Salat and which resolved to convene Friday's NDC was illegal.

He explained that Article 6 (2) c of the current party constitution is clear that only the party chairman has powers to convene a NEC, all delegates meetings or any other meeting of any of the party organs.

Muturi said the clause Salat relied on to convene the NEC and the one he is still relying on to convene the NDC does not apply since Uhuru is neither sick, nor in court or out of the country.

"He is capable to convene any of the meetings as empowered by the constitution which is in force. So the issue of emergency does not arise," Muturi told the Star.

The Uhuru camp accuses the Gideon camp of delaying compliance with the Political Parties Act when it moved to court last year and halted the recruitment of members. "None of these people are talking about this case, they are only talking of how Uhuru wants to kill the party," said Muturi. The orders to stop the recruitment drive were issued by Judge John Mwera in June 2011 after Salat and Coast NEC Representative Abdulrahman Ahmed Abdalla filed a suit against Uhuru and Muturi.

The court order restrained Uhuru and Muturi from directly or indirectly initiating the recruitment process, which was due to start the first week of June last year.

The court directed that the party first comply with the Constitution and the Political Parties Act of 2007. The suit was intended to force Uhuru to step down as Kanu chairman on account of being a state officer which the two say contravenes the country's constitution.

The court ordered that the injunction will be in force until the matter is heard and determined.

The case is still pending in court. Uhuru is already planning to join the National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAPK) and reports indicate he may announce the big switch before Saturday's Kanu NDC.

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