Ruto Team Loses First Round in Battle to Change Political Parties Law

  • DP William Ruto and a snippet inside parliament building
    DP William Ruto and a snippet inside parliament building
    Kenyans.co.ke
  • Efforts by Deputy President William Ruto's team to stop changes to the law governing political parties were on Wednesday, December 29, dealt a blow in a heated session of the National Assembly. 

    During a special parliamentary sitting to debate the highly controversial Political Parties Amendment Bill, Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi threw out a number of proposals by Members of Parliament allied to the DP.

    Among them were proposals by Kikuyu MP, Kimani Ichungwah, Dagoretti South MP, John Kiarie and Kilifi North lawmaker, Own Baya.

    While Ichungwah and Baya proposed the insertion of Clauses 19A, 25A, 25B, 26A and 26B  to the bill, Kiarie wanted to amend clause 20 in entirety, proposing that it be replaced by clauses 19A, 19B, 19C, 26b and 26C.

    Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi during a session in Parliament on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.
    Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi during a session in Parliament on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.
    File

    The legislators fronted the establishment of a Political Parties Registration Board and the position of the Chief Executive Officer of the Board. The latter would replace the current Office of the Registrar of Political Parties.

    However, Cheboi threw out the proposals, explaining that they fell short of the requirements of Standing Order 133(5).

    "These are new amendments that ought to undergo public participation as required by the Constitution, given the far-reaching changes envisioned therein and having gone outside the scope of the Bill as printed.

    "I, therefore, direct that the Committee of the whole house shall not consider the proposed amendments to Clause 20," Cheboi declared.

    On December 22, Cheboi referred all proposed amendments to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee for harmonization through a process known as winnowing. 

    However, on Tuesday, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale led the contingent of Ruto-allied legislators who stormed out of the meeting before the harmonization was done. The lawmakers stated that they could not deliberate in the presence of the political parties registrar.

    The Deputy Speaker also threw out a proposal by Belgut MP, Nelson Koech which sought to amend Clause 1 to change the title of the bill to 'Political Parties Coalition Bill'.

    Ruto asked MPs in his faction to vote against the bill that according to him, would boost Opposition Leader Raila Odinga's quest to vie for presidency under the Azimio la Umoja ticket.

    A proposed amendment by Duale to have parties declare ideologies before registration was also shut down in parliament, gaining 136 votes against 150.

    Nonetheless, the Ruto camp recorded a win following the passing of Tigania West MP John Mutunga's amendments. The surprise win of 123 v 118 votes came after the house disqualified votes cast virtually.

    The amendment proposed that the dominant colour of a coalition be owned by the bigger party.

    The most controversial provision is one that allows fully registered political parties to become members of other parties through coalitions. 

    The provision is speculated to be a move to have an Azimio La Umoja coalition party, similar to the rainbow coalition of NARC, where parties supporting Raila will join in without being dissolved. 

    Debate on the matter is ongoing as at the time of publishing this story with the final vote expected to be cast before the end of the house business on Wednesday, December 29.

    Lawmakers seated in Parliament
    Lawmakers seated in Parliament.
    Facebook