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Eyes on Political Parties Tribunal as Jubilee appeal case ruling looms

The Political Parties Disputes Tribunal will on Wednesday, 19th April 2023 issue a ruling on an appeal by embattled Jubilee SG Jeremiah Kioni, Vice Chairman David Murathe and Party Treasurer Kagwe Gichohi’s lawyer over the control of former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party. The three had sought the intervention of the Tribunal following a vicious fight for the soul of the former ruling party, pitting the trio against a group led by Kanini Kega and Sabina Chege. Both Kanini and Chege were nominated to EALA and the National Assembly by the Azimio Coalition.

The saga was set in motion by a meeting by the NEC convened in Nakuru by the party’s national chairman whose resolution, among others, was to suspend Kioni, Murathe and Gichohi. The Nakuru meeting occurred just a few days after 30 Jubilee MPs met President William Ruto at State House, sparking speculations about the Head of State’s role in the former ruling party’s current woes. Azimio has also raised concerns touching on the legality of the President convening a Parliamentary Group meeting of a party in opposition (Jubilee), claiming that such a move is retrogressive to multiparty democracy.

Kioni has since dismissed the NEC as inconsequential, arguing that it was not properly constituted according to the Party Constitution. “Pursuant to Article 10.5 of the said Party Constitution, the Secretary General of the Party has the sole mandate of convening meetings of the NEC, is the party spokesperson, is the custodian of the party’s legal documents and is responsible for all correspondence between the party and third parties”, reads the appeal by Kioni’s lawyer in part.

However, in an interesting twist of events, the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu ratified the resolutions of the NEC. “Upon review of the documents of the NEC meeting submitted to this office by the Deputy Secretary General, it is noted that they have met the requisite threshold of convening and holding a meeting. The party has been advised to invoke the provisions of the party constitution on Internal Dispute Resolution Mechanism (IDRM) and party discipline to resolve the raised issues,” argued Ms Nderitu.

Kioni, Murathe and Gichohi were later handed a shot in the arm when the political parties tribunal cast aside the resolution by the Jubilee NEC suspeding them and issued conservatory orders staying Ms. Nderitu’s decision which gave legitimacy to the resolutions. “Pending inter partes hearing and determination of the application, interim conservatory orders are hereby issued staying the Respondent’s decision communicated vide the letter dated 13th February 2023 to the effect that the (Jubilee Party NEC) meeting (held on 10th February 2023) was properly convened per the party constitution and further staying any consequential action by the Respondent towards effecting, adopting or ratifying the resolutions of the subject meeting,” read the Order in part.

Azimio has accused the Registrar of Political Parties of siding with the Kanini Kega group. “The principle that the Registrar is not simply a conduit but a critical player in determining whether decisions communicated to her office have complied with the law is now well anchored in our decisional laws” reads the appeal in part. Azimio has also raised concerns about what they term as the ‘passivity’ of the Registrar of Political Parties. “The ORPP has shown little or no interest in addressing the problems in political parties. The institution is so fearful of the rogue Executive that it cannot take action on individuals killing political parties and democracy”, said a party official.

The anticipated Wednesday ruling by the Parties Tribunal comes against the backdrop of intense negotiations between Azimio and Kenya Kwanza, with Azimio accusing Kenya Kwanza of insincerity and lack of commitment to the bipartisan negotiations.

Azimio has protested the composition of Kenya Kwanza’s negotiation team, insisting that the appointment of Eldas MP Adan Keynan, who is among the Jubilee MPs that trooped to State House days before the attempted takover at Jubilee, is in bad faith. Among the list of demands on the Kenya Kwanza regime, Azimio says that ‘protection of the letter and spirit of fidelity to multiparty democracy’ ranks high among its ‘non-negotiables’.

After a meeting with the civil society at Ufungamano House yesterday, Azimio Leader Raila Odinga announced the return of protests after Ramadhan in a bid to pile more pressure on the Kenya Kwanza administration.

By Douglas Kibonge