February 23rd 2018

Top Stories / National

Jubilee merger plunges Trans Nzoia assembly into crisis as party claims majority, minority positions

The current majority leader, Alfred Weswa, was elected on New Ford-Kenya ticket. URP was the second largest party in the assembly and its member Hillary Kemei was elected the leader of minority.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSaturday, 24 Sep 2016 15:08 EAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta cuts ribbon marking the dissolution of Jubilee affiliated parties.

Two weeks after the parties in the Jubilee Alliance merged to form a single Jubilee Party, Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) elected on Jubilee affiliated tickets which no longer exist have refused to relinquish conflicting leadership positions in the Trans Nzoia County Assembly.

The assembly had a Jubilee majority before the merger, owing to the combined membership of New Ford-Kenya and the United Republican Party members. The current majority leader, Alfred Weswa, was elected on New Ford-Kenya ticket.

Still, URP, also a Jubilee affiliate, was the second largest party in the assembly and its member Hillary Kemei was elected the leader of minority. Following the Jubilee merger, Weswa and Kemei are both now part of the majority party, according to MCAs elected on Ford Kenya, which is now the largest party in the minority.

The Ford Kenya MCAs hold that since the Jubilee Party merger, New Ford Kenya and URP became one and should jointly elect a new leader of majority, leaving Ford Kenya with the minority leader’s position.

“It is not legal for Jubilee to have both the majority and minority positions. The minority leader should come from Ford Kenya,” says the assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee vice chairperson, MCA Everlyne Nelima who is a member of Ford Kenya.

However, the Jubilee members cannot agree on the sharing of positions after the merger and have blocked the reconstitution of committees in the assembly two weeks since the merger. As the Political Parties Act provides, none of the Jubilee affiliated members resigned their elected positions following the merger, implying that they willingly joined the new Jubilee Party.

Ford Kenya members and Kitale-based legal experts hold that the Jubilee members should reconstitute themselves in the assembly and its committees, a prospect that would raise the role of Ford Kenya which is now the dominant opposition party.

Ford Kenya MCAs now hope to chair the oversight Public Accounts committee among other positions. This, however, is not possible because the Jubilee MCAs do not see eye to eye on many issues. Neither the majority nor the minority leader is assured of his position in a reconstituted party, and they do not want the assembly's committees formed afresh.

The differences played out last Saturday during a function by the county government to launch road construction equipment, when a Ford Kenya MCA Joel Milimo (representing Nabiswa Ward) declared himself the new minority leader and introduced himself as such.

As soon as he had finished his speech, Kemei said his colleague was wasting time since, in his words “I am still in charge of the minority. Why should I relinquish the position when even the president and his deputy William Ruto continue holding their positions after the merger?

The Jubilee is for next elections but as per now I’m still a URP MCA,” Kemei said, in what Ford Kenya supporters saw as a flagrant misunderstanding of the law.

Matters are made worse that the assembly Speaker has indicated that JP members should now constitute the majority, but he’s not made a formal ruling to that effect.

On the Ford Kenya side, Keiyo MCA Emmanuel Waswa is also seeking the minority leader’s position and wants the decision made quickly.

As matters stand now, Weswa and Kemei will most likely win no position when JP members reconstitute their committees. On the Ford Kenya side, the battle for minority leadership is between Waswa and Milimo.

The opposition members have called for a retreat for all MCAs in which all assembly positions should be contested afresh, including positions in the assembly Public Service Board.


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