7 December 2012

Kenya: Parties Coalition Pacts Face Legitimacy Test

PARTIES which deposited coalition agreements before subjecting them to approval of relevant party organs may be null and void.

The party organs will merely rubber stamp the political pacts once they are brought before them for endorsement.

The Political Parties Act says a coalition agreement "shall be" sanctioned by the governing body of the political parties entering into a coalition.

The coalition agreements must be deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties "at least three months before" an election -- December 4 for the March 4 poll. By implication, the approvals must be obtained before that date.

However, intellectual property rights lawyer Ben Sihanya says the parties can address the anomaly by getting their organs to approve the deals retrospectively.

"Technically, one is right to say the parties violated the law in sealing the deals prior to approval of relevant party organs. They can however cure this by having the relevant party organs ratify the deal," he said on the phone from London.

He said such endorsements are common in protocols, agreements and treaties.

Sihanya said the coalitions signed on Tuesday will reduce the tensions ahead of the election.

Already a petition is pending before the Registrar of Political Parties after nine officials of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi's UDF protested the party's coalition with TNA and URP.

The petitioners want the registrar to reject the coalition deal. They say the deal was not agreed by the party.

The third schedule of Political Parties Act says coalition agreements should be in line with the rules and procedures on the formation of coalitions.

The approval of the agreement by the governing bodies of the parties must be in writing and endorsed by national party officials and a commissioner of oaths.

The schedule says the agreements should have the coalition rules on election, nomination, code of conduct and policy initiation procedures. The other requirements include coalition policies and objectives, structure, management and criteria for sharing positions.

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