Politics

William Ruto allies ready for new fight on coalitions Bill in the Senate

William Ruto allies ready for new fight on coalitions Bill in the Senate

Deputy President William Ruto is preparing another ground for political battle with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga in the Senate over the contentious Political Parties Amendment Bill, 2021.

Outnumbered in the National Assembly, allies of the DP are preparing for another duel with the proponents of the bill in the Senate, which has been recalled for a special sitting on Tuesday when it will be introduced for first reading.

Passed in the National Assembly of Wednesday night, the bill has the backing of President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

It is intended to facilitate a Coalition Political party between Jubilee, ODM and other parties widely expected to be named Azimio la Umoja Movement.

Dr Ruto’s allies in the Senate are planning different strategies to defeat or delay the bill until next month or March, when lawmakers will be busy with nominations to be available for legislation.

Some of  the provisions on nominations will have been overtaken by events by then.

They hope to do that by introducing amendments or marshalling numbers to defeat it, thus forcing mediation between the Senate and National Assembly, which would require more time.

Some have even been talking of mounting a legal challenge.

Just like in the National Assembly, allies of the DP in the Senate are also planning to introduce numerous amendments when the bill is tabled for second reading in a bid to slow down its consideration.

Among the areas that have been identified by lawmakers allied to Dr Ruto is a clause seeking to give sweeping powers to the Registrar of Political Parties to regulate operations of the political outfits, including conducting primaries.

In the proposed legislation, the registrar also given power to certify lists that parties submit to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“A political party intending to submit a list to the commission shall at least 14 days before the submission, submit the list to the registrar for certification,” reads the bill passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said the amendment on the role of the Registrar of Political Parties is against the Constitution and would be subjected to more amendment by the Senate.

“The role of the registrar as contemplated in the bill undermines the rights of political parties. That amendment will have to be taken to mediation,” Mr Cherargei said.

Mr Cherargei called the Senate a House of reason and mature debate compared to the National Assembly but added that MPs allied to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) are ready for any duel “should the voice of reason fail to prevail”.

The UDA is the party whose ticket Dr Ruto is expected to use in his bid for the presidency in August.

“The Senate is a sober House. We expect debate that focuses on issues but it is obvious our colleagues in Azimio want to score political points,” he said.

Also targeted by the DP allies for amendment is Clause 8 of the bill, which seeks to compel a coalition political party to deposit an agreement with the Registrar of Political Parties four months to the General Election.

Mr Cherargei said the DP allies expect to team up with senators from Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) to defeat the amendment.

“Some ANC lawmakers in the National Assembly are uncomfortable with the bill. We look forward to working with them,” Mr Cherargei said.

An amendment by Garissa Township MP and former National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale seeking to expunge the clause was defeated, with 128 members voting against it while 104 voting for it.

While moving the amendments on Clause 8, Mr Duale called the proposal mischievous and intended to sanitise the characters of dishonest political leaders.

The other strategy Dr Ruto’s allies will use to frustrate the bill is differ with colleagues in the National Assembly on particular clauses so that the proposed legislation goes to a mediation committee.

In mediation, the Houses of Parliament attempt to build consensus on contended provisions of a bill or the entire bill whose passage requires consideration by the National Assembly and Senate.

Mediation happens when one House disagrees with the version of a bill or amendments made to it by the other.

The intention of mediation is to develop an agreed version of a bill that can be passed by both Houses.

A mediation team consists of an equal number of members of the National Assembly and Senate appointed by the Speakers who mostly consult the Whips.

The committee usually consists of the mover of the bill, chairpersons or members of the relevant committee, ranking members that originally considered the bill and members with strong views against or in support of the contended clauses.

Other members of the committee are those with experience on the subject of the bill and leaders of the majority and minority parties.

In accordance with the Constitution, the mediation committee is required to resolve the stalemate within 30 days.

When the committee fails to agree, the bill is deemed to have been defeated and the process starts afresh in the same or amended form.

The DP’s allies intend to ensure that its hardliners are among those in the committee to ensure that there is no consensus on the proposed legislation.

Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja said the Senate likes procedure and that proper public participation must be done and not rushed as was the case in the National Assembly.

“This bill affects the two sides of the political divide,” he said.

Government bloggers yesterday claimed Mr Sakaja would lead the DP camp in opposing the bill.

The senator did not want to be drawn into the matter.