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Showdown looms as coalitions Bill tabled in Senate

THE STAR 01/11/2022

This will pave way for public participation, debate and vote

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Deputy Speaker Margaret Kamar, Naomi Shiyonga and Mutula Kilonzo Jr outside Lee funeral home after viewing the body of the late Senator Victor Prengei View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Deputy Speaker Margaret Kamar, Naomi Shiyonga and Mutula Kilonzo Jr outside Lee funeral home after viewing the body of the late Senator Victor Prengei Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

The stage has been set for a showdown following the formal introduction of the contentious coalition political parties bill in the Senate.

The Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was tabled in the House during the special sitting on Tuesday, paving way for public participation, debate and vote.

On Tuesday, allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga said they want the bill passed as it is, heralding a clash with Deputy President William Ruto’s troops.

The DP’s men have said they will sponsor amendments to remove unconstitutional and offensive clauses.

The Bill, which seeks to create coalition political parties, was passed by the National Assembly in a chaotic and violent sitting last week.

Uhuru and Raila allies clashed with those of the DP as they fought for the proposed law.

While Uhuru and Raila troops supported the Bill, the DP’s allies frustrated the passage and employed several tactics including sponsoring several amendments, in an apparent effort to derail the exercise.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority leader Samuel Poghisio–allied to the handshake partners said they aim to have the bill passed as received from the national assembly.

“I would wish to have it passed the way it is,” Poghisio told the Star. 

The West Pokot Senator said they expect some fireworks during the debate but ruled out the debate will degenerate into chaos and fistfights similar to the one witnessed in the sister house.

“Generally, we know the instructions to the UDA side is to oppose or derail the process, but for us, we will debate and keep the Bill as it is,” he said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei and his Murang’a counterpart Irungu Kang'ata said they will sponsor a raft of amendments to the bill.

“I will bring amendments to clauses 3, 9 and 22. The definition of a coalition is vague. We cannot give the registrar of political parties such powers. The timeline for submission of coalition agreement must be changed,” Kangata said.

“UDA will propose to delete sections that negate the constitution. We hope our Azimio colleagues will not find it prudent to use force.”

Speaker Kenneth Lusaka called for a mature and sober debate on the Bill referred to Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to conduct public participation and file a report to the House on January 25.

The committee has written to specific entities and institutions to appear before the committee and give their view on the Bills.

The public hearings will be conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

JLAC chairman Senator Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) said the committee would advertise and invite Kenyans to submit their memoranda.

Among the institutions, the committee will invite are the IEBC, the registrar of political parties, the Judiciary Committee on election, FIDA, the political parties’ liaison committee and the gender commission.

Thereafter, the nine-member panel shall retreat to file a report ahead of tabling on January 25. The lawmakers will debate the report on January 26 and 27 before a vote is taken.

Reacting to the Bill moments after it was introduced, several senators sought assurance from the speaker that the Bill will not be rushed.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, an ally of the DP, was the first to rise on a point of order and sought an assurance that the Bill will not be rushed and Kenyans would be allowed to give their input

“I want to assume that because of the import of this Bill, that Kenyans will be given an opportunity through public participation, not a guided or rushed public participation, but a robust, well-publicised public participation,” Murkomen said.

He said they have high expectations in the senate to conduct the business with decorum free of violence and chaos.

“All Kenyans are waiting for this House. Considering what happened in the National Assembly is waiting for debate on issues. Kenyans are still wondering why these people are bickering,” he said.

Minority leader James Orengo, a member of the Senate business committee, said the Bill will not be rushed but will undergo all the processes and Kenyans given the opportunity to contribute through public participation.

“There was a decision that this Bill will be discussed thoroughly, comprehensively and robustly. As to the decision at the end, that should be left to the House as a whole sitting either in the plenary or otherwise,” he said.

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua urged the House to engage in a manner that instils confidence among Kenyans.

Lusaka said the Bill be processed in strict adherence to the constitution and the standing orders.

“The constitution and standing orders are very clear. The courts have also ruled on this matter. Some precedents and practices guide this house,” he said.

“I want to assure this senate that there is no intention to depart for the constitution and standing orders. The senate and the country can be assured of that.” 

Ford Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, said there is no rush to pass the Bill.

“Public participation must be real so that Kenyans can ventilate as is required under the Constitution and what they think of the content of the Bill,” he said.

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