KARUA 2013 BID UNDER THREAT
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua may be blocked from running for Presidency for simultaneously belonging to two different political parties. A ruling by the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal held that under the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act, Karua is a member of PNU while at the same time she is registered as a member of Narc-K under the Political Parties Act.
This technically means that anyone can challenge her nomination for president on the grounds that she has broken the law that bars anyone from simultaneously belonging to two registered political parties. Though the ruling by the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal does not directly address the issue of Karua’s eligibility ahead of next year’s elections, its findings forms a basis for anyone interested in halting her presidential bid on the grounds that she has violated Article 14 of the Political Parties Act.
“Parliamentary records with respect to the outcome of the 2007 general elections are lawful. The respondents' records (Registrar of Political Parties) with respect to the membership of political parties are equally lawful,” the tribunal chaired by Peter Simani noted during its ruling delivered last Thursday.
Karua had appealed to the tribunal over the sharing of the funds from the Political Parties Fund which is administered by the registrar of political parties Lucy Ndung’u. Karua had in May this year argued that the registrar ignored an earlier ruling on how PNU and its affiliate parties should share the money allocated by the registrar.
The tribunal had in May 2011 ruled that the registrar go back to the records available including those of defunct ECK and consult with the Speaker before deciding on how much each party was to get from the political parties kitty. Karua however moved to the tribunal again in May this year complaining that the registrar had ignored the 2011 directive.
The tribunal has sided with Karua and halted the sharing of the money meant for PNU until the issue of party membership is addressed. Karua's situation is unique in that, while many of her rivals for the presidency have associated themselves with new parties other than those that sponsored them to Parliament, none of them have formally resigned from these parties or even registered themselves as members of their new parties.
Karua was elected to Parliament on a PNU ticket. However, after she fell out with President Kibaki and during the 180-day window period which provided the parties with time to regularize and register themselves afresh as per the provisions of the 2008 Political Parties Act,Karua went ahead and registered herself as the Narc-Kenya party leader.
She did this without first resigning as a member of PNU which would have necessitated a by-election. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta still appears as a member of Kanu which sponsored him to Parliament in 2007 even though he is currently campaigning as the de facto nominee of his new party— The National Alliance.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Eldoret North MP William Ruto still appear as members of the ODM even though both men declared their intentions to vie for the presidency on UDF and URP tickets, respectively. Planning assistant minister Peter Kenneth appears on Parliament’s records as belonging to PNU but he has already hinted that he will be vying for the presidency on Kenya National Congress ticket.
While delivering its ruling, the tribunal blamed the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung'u for causing the confusion by failing to comply with an earlier ruling which had directed her office to consult with National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende to once and fall resolve the issue of Karua's double membership of both the PNU and Narc-Kenya parties.
“The respondent (Ndung’u) does not appear to have done this and this was a mistake,” the tribunal said in its ruling last Thursday. To further complicate matters, the Simani tribunal observed that though the Political Parties Act of 2007 Section 30 (3A) which deals with corporate member parties required political parties conducting joint nomination to indicate to the electoral commission the party where the nominated candidate belongs, this was not done.
This means that legally, Karua was elected as a PNU MP with no indication that she was affiliated to Narc-K. “The appellant Party Leader Hon Martha Karua has all along stated that at no time did she leave, resign from or abandon her party Narc-Kenya,” the tribunal has noted.
Karua’s Narc-K was among a dozen of political parties that pooled their efforts and resources towards the December 2007 general elections to boost President Mwai Kibaki’s chances of being re-elected. The parties, under PNU umbrella, conducted joint nominations in most of the constituencies.