29 September 2012

Kenya: Uhuru and Mudavadi Get 14-Day Party Switch Ultimatum

Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi have 14 days to declare whether they have quit Kanu and ODM respectively. High Court Judge Mohammed Warsame directed yesterday the two Deputy Prime Ministers and 12 MPs must respond to a letter from the Registrar of Political Parties, Lucy Ndung'u, which demands to know whether they have abandoned the parties that sponsored them to parliament.

Uhuru was elected on a Kanu ticket in 2007, but has since formed The National Alliance (TNA) while Mudavadi who was elected on an ODM ticket has decamped to the United Democratic Forum.

Uhuru, the Gatundu South MP, has declared he will vie for the presidency in the March 4, 2013 elections on a TNA ticket while Musalia, who is MP for Sabatia, wants to vie on UDF ticket.

They risk losing their parliamentary seats if the court finds they have quit their parties of 2007. Others listed in the case are MPs Hussein Mohammed Abdikadir (Mandera Central), Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Matuga), Boni Khalwale (Ikolomani), Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragua) and Aden Duale (Dujis). The judge said the case will be heard again on October 24.

The directives were given after Ndung'u urged the court to give her more time to finalize the process of investigating the alleged contravention of section 14(5) of the Political Parties Act.

The article provides that a person who, while being a member of a political party forms another political party, joins in the formation of another political party, in any way 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.

In her replying affidavit, Ndung'u has told the court that she wrote to the MPS mentioned in the case on September 17 requesting their responses to the allegations, but was yet to get a reply. The purpose of the letters she says was to afford the MPs a fair hearing before resolving the dispute.

Ndung'u in the letter states "in order to enable me prepare my affidavit as per the order of the court, and in the interest of giving you an opportunity to be heard, kindly but urgently furnish me with your response to the allegations made against you by the applicants within the next three days from the date hereof."

In the case, a lobby group associated with Prime Minister Raila Odinga moved to court seeking to compel Ndung'u to take action against MPs who had defected from parties that sponsored them to Parliament. The group in an attempt to stem party hopping says a number of MPs, who have abandoned parties that sponsored them to Parliament, should be deemed to have resigned from their sponsoring political parties.

Ndung'u in her documents however states that she is unable to independently judge the authenticity or accuracy of the allegations contained in the media reports of the MP's who have defected.

"I am aware that section 14 (5) of the act provides that a person who, while being a member of a political party, engages in the conduct listed in that provision shall be deemed to have resigned from his previous political party," she said.

"In view of the factual preconditions that are necessary before a person is deemed to have resigned from his previous party, the process of arriving at such a conclusion must be quasi-judicial in nature," she added.

The lobby group had argued a large number of MPs had abandoned parties and Judge Warsame then ordered the Registrar of Political Parties to publish a list of all political parties and their members in three days.

The registrar complied with the courts order and presented a list of document that showed some of the MPs had no party. In the list, she observed that some of them did not meet the requirements of the Political Parties Act 2007.

She was later also required to evaluate media footage and file an affidavit to confirm whether there were MPs who joined a political party other than the one that sponsored them to parliament.

But the court then ordered the group to reduce the media footage and any other evidence into an affidavit clearly stating the MPs who had violated the Act so that the registrar could analyze the information supplied and make a decision.

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