22 January 2013

Kenya: IEBC Must Disqualify Rogue Party-Hoppers

Nairobi — The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Institute of Education in Democracy (IED) have urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to keep its word and disqualify all politicians who party-hopped to get a direct nominations after losing in Friday's primaries.

The two institutions challenged the IEBC to be on the lookout for such politicians saying they should be tamed because it was impossible to switch parties and get nominated before Friday's midnight deadline.

LSK chairman Eric Mutua added that most politicians would have to unlawfully backdate their party memberships or nomination certificates to cheat the system and convince the IEBC of a successful endorsement.

"What most of the politicians are doing is to illegally backdate their resignation from the party which they initially wanted to run in and tell the IEBC they resigned earlier and are suitable to get nomination from the other party," he said.

IED Executive Director Peter Aling'o added that the IEBC should reign in such politicians to ensure that the March 4 general election is not marred by unfounded allegations of rigging.

Aling'o said the IEBC must manage the entire electioneering process to guarantee a fair and transparent process.

"And we want to see a situation where the IEBC comes out strongly to assert its authority and tell those candidates that their move is illegal and unacceptable; that it is null and void," he challenged.

Mutua accused the IEBC of leniency saying that it should also punish political parties that issued nomination certificates after Friday's deadline.

"The electoral commission seems reluctant to disqualify politicians and so they might extend this trend to the forthcoming elections because they will think it is business as usual," he argued.

The IEBC has already stated it will not consider the nomination certificates of any party hoppers who made their move after Friday's deadline.

Aling'o further asked the political class to exercise maturity and order especially as elections draw near to prevent a repeat of the bloody 2007 post poll violence.

He urged them to respect constitutional timelines noting that the last minute rush to conduct the nominations had left little time for the resolution of disputes.

"If we are going to push critical things to the very last tail of the timeline we risk the possibility of not having sufficient time to ventilate issues and when timelines are squashed the risk of making mistakes is real," he observed.

Members of the 10th Parliament watered down the Elections Act and the Political Parties Act so that crucial principles touching on the forthcoming elections were suspended until the next election.

The original laws set out guidelines for the nomination exercise as well as timelines through which to change parties.

"Politicians selfishly amended the laws to suit their own needs and changing parties is not a bad thing but it has to be done within an environment of sanity, order and the context of a maturing political democracy," observed Aling'o.

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