More than 100 lawmakers allied to Deputy President William Ruto are scheming to exploit electoral timelines to ditch their sponsor parties without losing their seats in Parliament.
The lawmakers are clutching on a requirement that the electoral commission cannot conduct a by-election 90 days to the General Election.
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) allied MPs are required by law to resign officially from the Jubilee Party by March 26.
Garissa Township MP Aden Duale, Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Cornelly Serem (Aldai) say they are shielded by the law from any form of punishment.
Mr Duale cited section 28 of the Elections Act that states that parties are required to submit their membership list at least 120 days before election. He further made reference to Article 101(5) of the Constitution that bars IEBC from conducting by-elections three months to the elections.
Mr Barasa said they are planning to resign by tomorrow.
“We are going to resign en mass on February 8. We want to resign from Jubilee alongside State officers. The law is clear on when a by-election can be held,” he said.
He cited Tongaren MP Eseli Simuyi and Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi) who have since resigned from Ford Kenya to join DAP-(K) as officials.
“If parties are required to submit their list of registered members by March 26, it means there can never be a by-election from that date,” he added.
Last week, Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Anne Nderitu told aspirants that they had less than two months to register with the parties they plan to run on.
“Before March 26, anybody who wants to participate on a ticket of a party should have joined that party,” said Ms Nderitu.
She said there was lacuna in law on what should happen in the event an elected leader resigns from the sponsor party during the electioneering period.
Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Anne Nderitu. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]
Elected leaders stand to lose their seats for ditching their sponsor parties but the requirement is complicated since the Independent Electoral and Boundaries
Commission (IEBC) cannot conduct mini-polls 90 days to a General Election.
“Currently, Parliament is not dissolved so there is a lacuna in what should happen when an elected leader resigns from the sponsor party. There is also a requirement that no by-election can be conducted three months to the August polls,” she explained.
Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju said ideally the seats should be declared vacant once the lawmakers officially resign from the party.
He, however, explained that the party will not waste time pushing to have the MPs lose their seats since it will end up in winding litigation.
“There are a lot of legal issues including the contradiction in the law that there cannot be a by-election three months to the General Election,” said Tuju. “What will be the point of having them to lose their seats? Kenya is a litigious society. We are not going to engage in those political sideshows.”
Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi said MPs should technically lose their seats by resigning, but doubted that this would be the case.
“You have seen the trend of people challenging such a process; losing seats will be academic. Even in 2017, there were members who moved from ODM to Jubilee and the matter dragged in court,” he said.
“The question will be whether the party will have the energy to follow up on such a matter because IEBC cannot do anything about it,” he added.
Sourced from Standard