Kenya: President Urged to Reject Party-Hopping Extension

Nairobi — The International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) on Friday urged President Mwai Kibaki to reject an amendment moved by MPs to allow them to party-hop after the January 4 deadline.

ICPC Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina said the amendment by lawmakers waters down electoral laws put in place to instill discipline in political parties.

“What they did is an exercise in futility. The president should not assent to that bill to make sure that due processes are being followed,” he asserted.

He said the president should recognise laws put in place to ensure sanity in political parties as well as to observe democratically controlled politics by refusing to sign the amendment into law.

Wainaina further told the MPs that although the country was in a transition period because of the General Election due in two months, they should not break laws and procedures to suit their interests.

He also expressed fears that party hopping will spur emotions during elections likely to result to violence like the one witnessed in 2008 which was blamed on among other factors deep political rivalry.

“It is actually during the transition period when the laws must be followed and adhered to the letter. Parliament cannot use unconstitutional methods of amending acts. What Parliament did yesterday is to create a chaotic scenario. It can be the first springboard to chaos towards elections,” he warned.

MPs on Thursday passed an amendment to allow themselves extra days to defect from parties that took them to Parliament.

It was the second time MPs extended time for them to move from parties that sponsored them to Parliament.

The first time was on October 17 when they moved it to January 4. They have now added 15 days to that deadline.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee Counterpart Eldoret North MP William Ruto became the first MPs to officially decamp from their parties to become members of new outfits.

Ruto informed the Registrar of Political Parties that he had left the Orange Democratic Movement for the United Republican Party whereas Kenyatta left KANU to join The National Alliance (TNA) party.

Ruto said he would quit as MP for Eldoret North at any time after consulting his constituents, while Kenyatta announced he would declare his next move in due course.

Ideally, an MP who ditches the party that sponsored him to Parliament is supposed to quit and seek re-election.