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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Government Secretly Halts Registration Of New Political Parties

I am reliably informed that an ordinary Kenyan who has made a late decision to enter into politics and to participate in this year’s polls has found it impossible to register their political party. Using this information, I contacted a law firm in Kenya that I know well and told them that I wished to register a political party. Sure enough, a few telephone calls later word came back that the good people at the registrar of societies have been “instructed” NOT to register any more political parties.

There are currently 250 registered political parties in Kenya.

I find this government decision rather interesting. Will somebody explain to me what advantage or disadvantage it will give the Kibaki administration if there are 250 or 250,000 registered political parties. If anything this decision is denying government much-needed funds in registration fees.

Besides this administration itself has not set a very good example (if registering too many political parties is a crime) because old parties like DP are still operating and claiming that the President will use them to seek re-election. At the same time Narc-Kenya has been registered and then there is yet another Narc being registered by Noah Wekesa after Charity Ngilu refused to play ball with the original Narc. I suppose that Wekesa will have no problem registering his Narc Original and yet an ordinary Kenyan seeking to register a political party will be taken round in circles being constantly told “check later,” until the elections are here. For the uninformed that’s Kenya for you.

Incidentally according to today’s Sunday Nation, the Raila Odinga faction within ODM Kenya are having a meeting with the registrar on Tuesday and it is expected that they will demand for the registration of yet another Orange Democratic Movement party (bringing the ODM’s to 3).

Let us not get into the thorny discussion of which of the 3 political parties will be allowed to use the orange symbol but it also means that the registrar will not be in a position to give her answer on the spot where Raila and company are involved. She will have to consult with higher authorities in view of the directive that she has received.

Denying Kenyans the right to register a political party just goes to show you the thinking of the same government (and indeed entire parliament) that passed the Media bill last week.

All the more reason why this issue of registering political parties should rest with an independent Electoral commission.

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