Senate will from Tuesday hold a three-day special sitting to debate among others the Political Parties Amendment Bill 2021. This is after Speaker Kenneth Lusaka gazetted the sittings which are expected to be heated as the Justice Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee tables its report after concluding public participation on the Bill.

“In accordance with Standing Order 30 (5) of the Senate Standing Orders, the business specified in this notice shall be the only business before the Senate during the special sittings following which the Senate shall stand adjourned until Tuesday, 8th February 2022 at 2.30pm in accordance with the Senate calendar,”

The Committee chaired by Okongo Omogeni on January 20 and 21 held a public engagement forum where it received views from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Registrar of Political Parties, Central Organization of Trade Unions, National Youth Council among others. The Committee is expected to propose at least seven amendments to the Bill when the House commences its second reading.

“I cannot single out specific clauses but we have received views virtually from the entire bill so there is no single clause I can point out. I know that will be evident once we submit the report before the House,”

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), for instance, raised an issue with proposed timelines for formation of coalitions citing a conflict with the Election Act of 2011. The poll agency also raised an issue with the definition of a “coalition political party” saying the proposal creates ambiguity on what then constitutes a coalition of political parties under the existing framework. The commission argued that the Election Act under Section 31 provides for nomination of candidates of political parties which leave a gap in the case of a coalition party.

IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati asked what then constitutes a coalition of political parties where constituent members of the individual political parties are still able to field individual candidates.

While presenting her submissions, the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu supported the Bill saying it will ensure effective management of political outfits as well as address the overlap in the mandate between her office and IEBC. Nderitu defended the Bill saying it will cure the issue of regulation of party primaries, funding of political parties and timeline for formation of coalition party as well as membership of political parties.

“The bill addresses the lessons and experiences from previous electoral cycles including challenges faced during party primaries in previous electoral cycles,”

The Senate is required to pass the Bill without any amendment to avoid any delays for its implementation as envisioned by its proponents. Any amendment of the Bill by the Senate will result in the formation of a mediation committee comprising of the members from the Bicameral House which in turn would pose another dilemma for President Kenyatta and Odinga who are keen to have the Bill passed to clear the way for a coalition political party.

Edited by: Chepkosgei Jedidah