By: Kamande Muchiri @MountKenyaTimes
Political aspirants who are defeated in party primaries will not have a window to vie as independent candidates, Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu has said.
Speaking yesterday in Naivasha, the ROPP said they are working on a law to actualise that ahead of 2022 elections.
Nderitu said candidates must declare in advance if they want to run under a party or as an independent.
“There will be a window where if you are a party candidate you cannot cross over to run as an independent,” she said.
This comes barely two months after she expressed concerns that the rate of defections her office has been processing is likely to weaken political parties.
Nderitu at the same time said Parties should immediately clean their registers.
“We are advising cleaning up of registers by political parties so that those who vote in primaries are members,” she said.
“This list should also be made available to the public online via the e-citizen platform. This time round we don’t expect them to use the registrar of political parties register.”
Nderitu said going into elections, they are looking at the credibility of political parties.
“At the top of the list is the question of political parties primaries. How political party conduct their primaries will determine the credibility of the polls,” she said.
She explained that it was for this reason that they were insisting that parties to ensure registers are clean.
“Only real members should be in the register. Kenyan parties should not be obsessed with big registers. Not all party supporters should be in the register,” she said.
Nderitu further revealed that her office has asked Parliament to change the law to give parties a chance to use various methods in their primaries including interviews.
She however clarified that Parties must declare which method will be used before primaries are held.
Nderitu also said Coalition and merger agreements must be watertight and as per 2019 law.
A law was passed in 2019 to ensure these merger agreements are scrutinized well.
Early October, Nderitu said over 100 people had switched from one political party to vie as independent candidates.
Article 85 of the Constitution provides for eligibility for independent candidates wishing to vie for Parliament (Senate and National Assembly).
It provides that any person is eligible to stand as an independent candidate for election if the person is not and has not been a member of a registered political party for at least three months immediately before the date of election.
Independent candidates must also satisfy other requirements for election to Parliament. They should be registered as a voter; satisfy the educational, moral and ethical requirements prescribed by this Constitution or legislation.
They must also be supported by at least one thousand registered voters in a constituency, in the case of election to the National Assembly and by at least two thousand registered voters in the county in the case of election to the Senate.
In 2017, a record 4,002 independent candidates, compared to just 350 in 2013, presented themselves for election as non-party hopefuls, a number analysts say could rise significantly in the 2022 elections.
The majority were forced to abandon their political parties of choice when they lost in party primaries.
Because there is a requirement that one needs to not belong to a political party 90 days before they present themselves to the IEBC for nomination as an independent candidate; those who lost political party primaries but still wanted to vie had to ensure they relinquished their party membership before May 10th 2017.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) set April 6 to April 22, 2022, as the time within which political parties must conduct their nominations for candidates in the August 9, 2022, elections.
In the election timelines released by the commission, independent candidates will have until May 9, 2022, to cease being members of a political party.
With IEBC expected to publish a list of all nominated candidates by June 24, 2022, political parties are required to submit their party lists by June 25, 2022.
Some analysts have argued that the independent candidates could be as many as half of the party-backed candidates in the 2022 poll if parties do not address the issues that pushed hopefuls to run as independents.
Suspicion, infighting and fear of bungled nominations have already started threatening main parties as they all grapple with issues of whether they have the capacity to hold free and fair nominations.
There are fears that party leaders have preferred candidates at various levels.
Analysts have warned that DP Ruto led UDA and Raila led ODM parties could lose strong candidates to fringe parties if they bungle nominations.
Both leaders are attracting many aspirants, especially in their strongholds, a sign that competition will be very stiff in some cases.
Sources say the two are worried about party nominations, as they have the potential to make or break them.
Already, Ruto’s UDA has been fighting reports that it has guaranteed some of its members direct tickets.
Raila’s party has previously been accused of unfair nominations, and in recent months the party has announced a raft of measures to address the nomination headache.
In the past, aspirants who have made successful bids have relied on Raila’s clout to win support.
As 2022 draws closer, ODM is racing against time to put its house in order to prevent fallout during nominations.
Some leaders have made a comeback, causing jitters among party stalwarts who have questioned their loyalty.
If independent candidates were a party, their representation in the National Assembly — 13 — would be the fourth largest after Jubilee, ODM, and Wiper, respectively, showing just how big the allure of the independent candidates has become.
At 13, the number of independent candidates who are MPs beat those that political heavyweights Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC (12) and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya with 10 members have in their fold.
Of the 13, six were party candidates who did not win their parties’ nomination in regions seen as Jubilee or National Super Alliance (Nasa) strongholds.
These are MPs Mohamed Ali, Nyali, John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Meru County’s Kawira Mwangaza, Patrick Wainaina of Thika Town, Turbo’s Janet Sitienei, and Suna West’s Peter Masara.
In the 1,450 wards, independent candidates who won in the 2017 poll were the third-largest group — a staggering 109 — only beaten by Jubilee’s 582 MCAs and ODM’s 339.
Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and his Isiolo counterpart Mohamed Kuti were elected as independent candidates, while Kirinyaga senator Charles Kibiru is flying the independent flag in the Senate.