By Moses Nyamori
More than 900 aspirants have so far applied to run as independent candidates in the August 9 Kenyan General Election amid fears that party primaries scheduled for early next month will be manipulated.
The number is expected to swell next month after the primaries, which have in the past occasioned major defections.
Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu yesterday said at least 650 applications have been cleared after submitting proposed symbols.
According to the law, aspirants defeated during primaries, which should be concluded by April 22, can still resign from their parties and run independently. They will, however, have to register as independents by May 2. In the 2017 General Election, out of the 14,523 candidates 4,002 vied as independents.
“By close of business of March 28, 2022, a total of 912 persons had manually applied to the ORPP (Office of the Registrar of Political Parties) for clearance that they are not members of political parties, out of which 650 applications had been processed and clearance letters issued,” said Ms Nderitu.
She added: “Equally, the registrar issued letters certifying that proposed symbols do not resemble symbols of political parties. The ORPP is also at the final stage of developing an independent candidates management system to supplement the manual process.”
Ms Nderitu said the system will enable aspirants submit their requests for clearance letters and symbols before submitting their applications to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The law requires individuals who seek to contest in an election as independent candidates not to be members of a political party at least three months to the date of election.
“According to the Gazette Notice on the General Election, they are required to submit their clearance letters and proposed symbols to IEBC by May 2, 2022,” said Nderitu.
Parties have in past election years held chaotic nominations, leaving many aspirants with no option but to seek tickets from other parties or to run as independent candidates. This malpractice led to the flourishing of briefcase political parties that used to sell nomination certificates on a first-come-first-served basis.
The Raila Odinga-led ODM Party has scheduled its primaries from April 1 to April 21, while Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance will conduct its nominations on April 14.
At the same time, Nderitu disclosed that 24 million Kenyans are listed as members of various political parties.
Out of the number, 15.36 million (representing 64 per cent) are men while women are 8.64 million. The figures were correct by March 26, the deadline for party hopping.
Eighty-two political parties had also submitted their party membership registers to the ORPP for certification.
“The Registrar of Political Parties will certify membership registers within seven days from the date of submission. The deadline for submission of certified party membership register to IEBC is April 9, 2022,” said Nderitu.
Certification of the register involves ascertaining that members are Kenyans, adults, and are not listed in any other political outfit.