Uhuru, Raila claim Senate victory as political parties Bill sails through

The Senate

The Senate building in Nairobi on May 24, 2020. 

Senators allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday crushed opposition from Deputy President William Ruto’s camp and successfully pushed through the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

The victory comes as a major relief for President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga following the humiliation they suffered in the National Assembly after an ambush by Tangatanga MPs nearly threw the final session of the 12th Parliament into disarray.

A confident Azimio la Umoja team easily outnumbered Dr Ruto’s allies to see the Bill through the second reading and were on the verge of defeating at least 15 amendments that had been filed by lawmakers allied to the DP.

A total of 29 senators voted for the Bill while seven opposed it.

“I want to commend the passage of this Bill because it provides a framework for establishing coalitions and makes it possible for them to operate,” said Minority Leader James Orengo.

Usurp powers

DP Ruto-allied legislators argued that some clauses in the Bill are unconstitutional and usurp the powers of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet), Petronilla Were (nominated), Isaac Mwaura (nominated), Irungu Kang'ata (Murang’a) and Enoch Wambua (Kitui) had proposed amendments to the Bill.

The DP’s allies pointed out that clause 22, which gives the Registrar of Political Parties sweeping powers to preside over nominations in political parties and to provide a certified list of members to participate in the process, usurps the powers of the IEBC.

The constitution

Mr Murkomen said that although the Bill would pass, those against it would fight it later.

“There are glaring issues in the Bill that contravene the constitution. We know they will win but we will meet them ahead. This Bill has failed the test in the drafting stage and it is constitutional,” Senator Murkomen said.

“The function of managing elections in political parties is entirely a function of the IEBC. This is a hopeless provision and when the courts will look at it, they will be surprised that it passed in the hands of senior counsels in this House.”

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