Losers in the political party’s nominations will be locked out from vying as independent candidates in the August 9 General Election if MPs approve changes to the law.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) wants Parliament to amend the Elections Act, 2011 to eliminate a 14-day window that allows losers in party primaries to run as independents.
The law currently requires political parties to present party lists 90 days to the General Elections while independent candidates have 120 days to submit their names to the IEBC.
The electoral agency said the amendments to the Elections Act, 2011 will provide equality in the treatment of candidates presented by political parties and those who run as independents.
The Constitution stipulates that for one to run as an independent candidate, the person must not have been a member of a political party at least 90 days before the general election.
The law currently gives nomination losers a window of 14 days to resign from the party they ran on and become independent candidates.
IEBC says the law denies a person the opportunity to move from one party to another but allows one to move from a political party to an independent.
“For equity, we want the days reduced to 90 days within which membership lists would be presented. By this, there would be no window for people who have been denied nominations to become independents,” the IEBC said.
The IEBC is set to register candidates from May 29 to June 9. Political Parties have until April 22 to conduct nominations.
Chrispine Owiye, the IEBC Legal Services director told MPs that the commission wants the deadline for independent candidates to submit their names 90 days to the General Election.
“I know that this is a controversial amendment because there are those who want party hopping as well as those who want to seal a loophole for party hopping,” Mr Owiye said.
“The way the law currently denies a person from hopping from party A to party B is the same way we should deny a candidate from hopping from a political party to independent.”
The IEBC made the proposals during public participation on the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
The Bill seeks to align the laws on Elections following recent amendments to the Political Parties (Amendment) Act.
Mr Owiye told the National Assembly’s Committee on Delegated Legislation that the law currently discriminates against aspirants.
“There are those who will go through party primaries, test it and when they fail jump ship to run as independent candidates. Aspirants must decide from the word go to run either through parties or as independents. We must close this party hopping window,” Mr Owiye said during public participation on the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022.