The Star (Nairobi)

1 January 2013

Kenya: Kibaki Mum On Party Hopping

President Kibaki yesterday created anxiety in the political arena after he failed to take a decision on whether politicians will have 15 more days within which they can hop from party to party.

Kibaki assented to the Political Parties Amendment Bill, 2012 and the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2012. However, he did not reject or sign into law the Statute Law (Amendments) Bill 2012 which contained the contentious clause which would have given MPs and other political aspirants at least two more weeks to commit to a party as Parliament had recommended last Thursday.

Ordinarily, if the President declines to assent to a bill, he sends it back to Parliament with a memorandum explaining the reasons why he has rejected it.

This now means that the January 4 deadline which bars aspirants from party hopping stands. Anyone aspiring to run for any elective post in the March 4 elections must by this date have decided which party's nomination they will be seeking.

The President however has a leeway to sign the Bill into law anytime between now and Friday this week which is the deadline. The Political Parties Act currently does not allow elected officials to simultaneously belong to two parties.

This means that MPs who have joined TNA or URP or decamped from parties which sponsored them to Parliament should officially resign as lawmakers by the end of this Friday unless Kibaki signs the bill into law.

As the law stands now, parties are required to submit their lists of nominees to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) not later than January 4.

Only those on these lists will be allowed to vie or be nominated to the National Assembly or the Senate. Independent candidates are guided by a different regulation and are therefore not affected by this amendment.

Originally, the provision was that any person who intends to contest in the March 4, 2013 elections would have to be a member of the sponsor party not later than October 4, 2012.

Parliament however amended the law and pushed this deadline to January 4. Last week, MPs revisited the clause and pushed the date further to January 18. The decision to postpone the deadline yet again was due to the rows that have risen following a fallout among partners in the various coalitions that were formed and registered in the early days of last month.

If the President signs the Statute Law (Amendments) Bill, the MPs will have secured 15 more days to officially belong to their new parties. The Tenth Parliament stands to be dissolved on January 14.

Yesterday, PPS said Kibaki had given his assent to the Political Parties Amendment Bill that seeks to streamline the electoral diary timelines and the Elections (Amendment) Bill that deals with the management of petitions and how to expedite petitions in the event of a runoff in the presidential elections.

Other bills signed by the President include the Human Resource Management Professional Bill, the Office of the Attorney-General Bill and the Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and affected Communities Bill.

Also signed into law was the Micro and Small Enterprises Bill, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service Bill and the Seeds and Plant Varieties (Amendment) Bill.

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