Kenya nomination row hits EALA operations

Monday June 12 2017

EALA in session. PHOTO | FILE

East African Legislative Assembly in session. PHOTO | FILE 


An oversight in new rules for the nomination of members to the East African Legislative Assembly by Kenya is being blamed for stalling their selection by parliament, which may now cripple the operations of the assembly.

Missing in the new rules gazetted in April 2017 is the minimum number of nominees political parties are required to provide, while the maximum is clearly stated.

“A party shall be entitled to nominate for election under these rules any number of candidates not exceeding three times the figure arrived at by multiplying the number of elected Members of Parliament of that party by such a number as the Joint Committee shall determine and dividing the result by the total number of elected MP,” states Section 6(1) of the EALA Election Rules, 2017.

The ruling Jubilee party forwarded 15 names and the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) forwarded four names. But the parties have failed to agree on how to deal with Section 6 (1), in an exercise that is increasingly taking on a political dimension. 

The Leader of the Majority in parliament, Aden Duale, has said that Cord must forward an additional seven names, while Minority Chief Whip Thomas Mwadeghu insists that there is no law compelling them to give additional names.

Cord is citing the Eala nominations of 2012 when Kanu only forwarded the name of Sarah Bonaya for the single slot they were entitled to, forcing parliament to vote yes or no for the single candidate.

The three Cord affiliate parties, which are entitled to four slots, are Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Wiper Democratic Party and Ford-Kenya. The coalition forwarded the names of Kennedy Kalonzo, the son of Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, the ODM electoral board chair Judith Pareno, who is seeking re-election, a current Eala MP, Abubakar Zein, and newcomer, Ronald Ng'eny.

Cord is concerned that if it gives more names, Jubilee could use its numerical strength in parliament to elect individuals that would go against those Cord had carefully selected on the basis of gender and regional balance.

Crippled operations

However, the paralysis in the Kenyan parliament will in essence cripple the operation of the regional assembly in Arusha, which has already suspended the swearing in of members from the other partner states, which was to take place on June 5.

The life of the 3rd assembly ended on June 4. This means the new Assembly cannot elect the speaker, the committees and their chair and cannot also form the commission, thereby crippling the operations of the 4th assembly, despite Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan having completed their elections.

Eala’s Bobi Odiko told The EastAfrican that it is not possible for the regional assembly to transact any business without members from Kenya or any other partner state, for that matter.

“The most EALA could do in this instance is to swear in the other members elected from the partner states, but it cannot proceed any further, nor transact any business without Kenya.  The House will therefore still be paralysed,” said Mr Odiko.

EALA Rules of Procedure state that for a quorum to be realised, Kenya (like all partner states) must be represented. In the day-to-day activities of the House, half of the elected members and one-third from each partner state (three out of nine members) must be represented for business to proceed in line with Rule 12 of the Rules.