Reprieve as court upholds Political Parties Amendment Act 2022

by Wakili Liam

Petitioners are counting their losses after the High Court threw out their prayer to suspend the operationalization of the Political Parties Act of 2022.

A three-judge bench comprising of judges Hedwig O’ngudi, Esther Maina and Daniel Ogembo, Wednesday declared that the Bill signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta in January this year was constitutional.

The bench in the ruling said that there was adequate public participation that began in 2017 after the general polls and before the bill was debated in Parliament.

In addition, the High Court also pointed out that stakeholders were involved in the various forums and that members of the Civil Society and Secretary Generals of all political parties attended.

The judges further noted that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has the mandate to regulate the nomination of members of all political parties but not the registrar of political parties adding that all political parties are subject to audit as they receive public funds.

In conclusion, the three-judge bench noted that a member of a political party cannot belong to another political party adding that in the event that one fails to be nominated, he may want to seek nomination in another party which will affect time management by IEBC in conducting the second nomination.

The petitioners, Salesio Mutuma Thuranira, Katiba Institute, Africa Centre For Open Governance (AFRICOG), Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists and the Kenya Human Rights Commission sought to have the law suspended arguing that it threatens the political rights of Kenyans and the independence of IEBC.

The Act was assented to by the head of state on 27th January 2022.

The parliamentary bill was approved by the National Assembly over the Christmas and New Year festive period before being referred to the Senate where it was passed.

The new law amends the Political Parties Act of 2011 by introducing the concept of coalition political parties, outlining the functions of political parties as well as changing the criteria for accessing the Political Parties Fund.

The law also empowers the Registrar of Political Parties to certify political party membership lists and nomination rules among other transformative provisions aimed at strengthening the management of political parties and enhancing democracy.

The Bill was presented to the President for signature by State House Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi at a brief ceremony attended by Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi as well as Parliamentary Majority Leaders Samuel Poghisio (Senate) and Amos Kimunya (National Assembly).

Also present were Attorney General Paul Kihara and Clerks Jeremiah Nyegenye (Senate) and Michael Sialai (National Assembly).

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