Jubilee, Cord leaders support new bill on merger
23 February 2016, 11:20
Nairobi - Both Jubilee and Cord leaders support a new bill that sets the ground for merger of affiliate political parties ahead of the 2017 general election.
The Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which creates a legal platform for the merger of political parties, was tabled in parliament last week. Jubilee is set to be the first beneficiary of the bill if it sails through.
Speaking to News24 Monday, National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale and (ODM) Chairman John Mbadi said the bill will foster democratic space in the country as it has guidelines for leaders who do not wish to cross over to new parties.
The bill by National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs committee provides MPs and other leaders who disagree with a merger a legal basis to cross over to a party of their choice or remain as independent members without any consequence.
"With the deadline for the Jubilee affiliate parties merger around the corner, this bill would not have come at a better time. No MP or Senator will be forced to join Jubilee party. Those who disagree with the merger will have alternatives of joining parties of their choice," said Duale.
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"Though in Jubilee we have not been hard on party rebels like our Cord counterparts who have de-whipped their MPs from House committees because we believe in democracy, these people who disagree with party leadership will be accorded a chance to decamp," said the Garissa Township MP.
The registrar of political parties will be required to gazette the dissolution of merged parties within seven days and issue a certificate of registration to the new political outfit, states the bill.
"If the party a legislator used to join parliament still exists, then you can join another party, but if the party has chosen to dissolve itself and merge with another, then it makes sense to allow individual members to make decisions, as the merger was not part of the arrangement when seeking for the elective seat," explained Mbadi.
"If you ask me, it is just fair to allow members who are not interested in the merger to remain independent or join another party," he added.
But Mt Elgon MP, John Serut who was elected on an Independent ticket disagreed with the duo and observed that if the bill sails through, reining in political parties that have always flouted democracy especially during nominations, will not be easy.
"The bill in itself is good, but there is no way it will foster democracy as party leaders themselves are notorious in ensuring that no individual from a different party captures a seat in their strongholds," he said.
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"It will be practical if leaders of political parties desist from going to the grassroots and telling people not to elect anyone from outside their own party. It will also work if nominations are free and fair," said Serut, who questioned the urgency with which Jubilee leaders want the bill passed.
MPs reduced the publication period of the bill from 14 to 11 days.
ODM Director of Elections, Junet Mohamed on his part said the bill which is supposed to be tabled for second reading is good, but expressed reservations on the merger timelines.
"Parties should be allowed to merge three months to elections, there should be reason why the parties contested separately. Even soccer has window's for transfer. If you defect immediately, it is political dishonesty," explained Junet.
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