3 October 2012

Kenya: Bid to Give Party-Hoppers Latitude Suffers Hitch

In Parliament, legislators finally managed to legalize party hopping, by passing the Elections Act Amendment Bill, allowing politicians to change ... ( Resource: Kenyan MPs Pass Party Hopping Amendment

An attempt by MPs to rush through Parliament changes contained in the Elections (Amendment) Bill which will allow them to change parties until 45 days before a general election has suffered a temporary setback.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim on Wednesday morning ruled it could proceed to Third Reading after three lawmakers used a provision in the Standing Orders to block debate.

MPs Nicholas Gumbo, John Pesa and Martin Ogindo used the provision which allows the Speaker to halt further debate if at least three lawmakers feel deliberations on a Bill are being rushed.

Deputy Leader of Government Business in the House Amos Kimunya and Nominated MP Amina Abdallah tried to convince the trio to withdraw their opposition saying that Ruto's Bill which is two paragraphs long and is solely intended to remove the requirement in the current Elections Act for a person nominated by a party to contest for election as MP or county assembly to have been a member of the party for at least three months before parties submit their list of candidates.

Kimunya stated: "No additional amendments can be brought to the Bill at this stage."

The Elections (Amendment) Bill was scheduled to go through the three readings. The intention was to have it ready for President Kibaki's assent before Thursday's deadline.

The introduction of the Bill was preceded by a procedural Motion asking MPs to reduce its publication from 14 to five days. This was moved by Katoo ole Metito and waved through to the formal introduction in the House.

Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto who authored the amendment told the House that he wants to give MPs the freedom to choose.

"This Bill is meant to streamline the elections that have to be held early next year. There are a few contradictions between this Bill and an earlier amendment. And it also seeks to be discriminatory between those who are to be elected and those who are to be nominated. This Bill is to ensure that there is order," he added.

MPs Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu Town East), Agostinho Neto (Ndhiwa) and Sospeter Ojaamong (Teso) opposed the amendment saying it creates loopholes to allow unwarranted party hopping, while Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo abstained.

Odhiambo said: "For me really what we are doing here is cosmetic, we will pass laws nobody will obey, because they have to with us (MPs).

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