The Political Parties Act contains the provisions on how to register a political party in Kenya. Article 92 of the Constitution mandated parliament to enact laws that govern political parties in Kenya, hence the Political Parties Act.
An association of persons or organization may register a political party in Kenya to promote purposes which are not contrary to the Constitution or any written law, subject to the provisions of the Constitution and the Political Parties Act.
A citizen of Kenya who has attained the age of eighteen years may contest for an elective position in a political party in which he is a member, subject to the provisions of the Political Parties Act and any other written law.
Requirements For Forming A Political Party In Kenya
An association of persons or an organisation should register as a political party in Kenya to operate or function as a political party. An association of persons or an organisation should not operate or function as a political party unless it has been registered in accordance with the provisions of the Political Parties Act.
The Registrar of Political Parties is in charge of the registration of political parties in Kenya.
The Registrar of Political Parties should not register an association of persons or an organisation as a political party if such association or organisation does not meet the requirements set out in Article 91 of the Constitution.
Article 91 of the Kenyan Constitution stipulates the basic requirements for forming a political party in Kenya.
Every political party should-
- have a national character as prescribed by an Act of Parliament;
- have a democratically elected governing body;
- promote and uphold national unity;
- abide by the democratic principles of good governance, promote and practise democracy through regular, fair and free elections within the party;
- respect the right of all persons to participate in the political process, including minorities and marginalised groups;
- respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, and gender equality and equity;
- promote the objects and principles of the Constitution and the rule of law; and
- subscribe to and observe the code of conduct for political parties.
A political party should not-
- be founded on a religious, linguistic, racial, ethnic, gender or regional basis or seek to engage in advocacy of hatred on any such basis;
- engage in or encourage violence by, or intimidation of, its members, supporters, opponents or any other person;
- establish or maintain a paramilitary force, militia or similar organisation;
- engage in bribery or other forms of corruption; or
- except as is provided under Chapter 7 of the Constitution or by an Act of Parliament, accept or use public resources to promote its interests or its candidates in elections.
How To Register A Political Party In Kenya
There are various requirements for political party registration in Kenya.
Registration of any association of persons or organisation as a political party occurs upon application for the same to the Registrar of Political Parties. The process to register a political party in Kenya is a two stage process:
- Provisional registration, and
- Full registration
Provisional Registration Of A Political Party
Section 5 of the Political Parties Act states that an association of persons or organisation applying to be registered as a political party in Kenya may apply to the Registrar of Political Parties for provisional registration.
Upon receipt of an application for provisional registration, the Registrar of Political Parties should—
- within fourteen days, publish a notice in the Kenya Gazette and in at least two newspapers with nationwide circulation, inviting objections from any person or any other political party concerning the registration of the name, symbol, colour of the political party, or any other issue relating to the registration of the political party;
- issue that association or organisation with a certificate of provisional registration within thirty days of the association or organisation fulfilling the conditions on provisional registration (see below on application for provisional registration).
A political party that has been provisionally registered should apply to the Registrar of Political Parties for full registration not later than one hundred and eighty days from the date of provisional registration.
The provisional registration of a political party which has not applied for full registration should lapse at the expiry of one hundred and eighty days from the date of issue of the certificate of the provisional registration.
The provisional registration of a political party which has applied for full registration should be valid until the political party is issued with a certificate of full registration, or until the application of the political party to be registered has been rejected.
A political party that has been provisionally registered is not entitled to participate in an election.
Application For Provisional Registration
An application for the provisional registration of a proposed political party should be in writing and be signed by the applicants, of whom not more than two-thirds should be of the same gender.
An application for provisional registration of a political party in Kenya should —
- include signed minutes of the first meeting of the founding members of the political party;
- set out the name of the political party;
- set out an abbreviation if the political party wishes to use an abbreviation of its name for the purposes of the Political Parties Act;
- be accompanied by a copy of the Constitution of the proposed political party which should comply with the provisions of section 9 of the Political Parties Act;
- include an undertaking to be bound by the Political Parties Act and the Code of Conduct set out in the First Schedule of the Act; and
- be accompanied by the prescribed fee for the registration of a political party in Kenya.
An application for provisional registration should include a request for the registration of the symbol of the political party.
Rights And Privileges Of A Provisionally Registered Political Party
A political party which has been provisionally registered is entitled to—
- hold and address public meetings in any area in Kenya for the purposes of publicising the political party and recruiting members;
- the protection and assistance of the State security agencies for the purposes of facilitating peaceful and orderly meetings; and
- the provision by the State, of fair opportunity to present the political party’s programmes to the public by ensuring equitable access to the State-owned media.
Provisional registration should not entitle any political party to organise or hold public meetings in connection with any election or to propose or campaign for any candidate in any election. A political party which contravenes this provision should not qualify for full registration.
Conditions For Full Registration Of A Political Party
Section 6 of the Political Parties Act sets out the conditions to fully register as a political party in Kenya. An application for full registration of a political party should be in writing and an authorised official of the political party should sign it.
A provisionally registered political party should qualify to be fully registered if—
- it has recruited no less than one thousand registered voters from each of more than half of the counties as members of the party;
- the members recruited above reflect regional and ethnic diversity, gender balance and representation of special interest groups;
- the composition of its governing body reflects regional and ethnic diversity, gender balance and representation of special interest groups;
- not more than two-thirds of the members of its governing body are of the same gender;
- it has demonstrated that members of its governing body meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the laws relating to ethics;
- it has submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties—
- a list of the names, addresses and identification particulars of all its members;
- the location of its head office, which should be a registered office within Kenya and a postal address to which notices and other communication may be sent;
- the location and addresses of the branch offices of the political party, which should be in more than half of the counties; and
- the disaggregated data of its membership based on each of the components of the special interest groups (youth, women and persons with disabilities);
- it has undertaken to be bound by the Political Parties Act and the Code of Conduct set out in the First Schedule of the Act.
A person is disqualified from being a member of the governing body of a political party if that person—
- is an undischarged bankrupt;
- has been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than six months;
- has been suspended for a period of six months for violating the code of conduct of the political party; or
- has contravened the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution (on leadership and integrity).
The Registrar of Political Parties should issue a certificate of full registration to a provisionally registered political party, which has fulfilled the conditions of full registration, within thirty days of an application for full registration.
A person who is not a citizen of Kenya should not be appointed to any office or be a member of a political party in Kenya.
A public officer is not eligible to be a founding member of a political party or eligible to hold office in a political party. However, this provision does not apply to the following:
- the President;
- the Deputy President;
- a Member of Parliament (a Member of the Senate, a Member of the National Assembly or a County Woman Representative);
- a County Governor,
- a Deputy Governor; or
- a Member of a County Assembly.
Parties With Certain Names Not To Be Registered
The Registrar of Political Parties may refuse an application for the registration of a political party if the name of the political party, the abbreviation of the name or the symbol that it wishes to use for the purposes of the Political Parties Act—
- is obscene or offensive;
- is the name or is an abbreviation of another political party that is registered under the Political Parties Act; or
- so nearly resembles the name or symbol, or an abbreviation of the name of another political party registered under the Political Parties Act or any other legal entity registered under any other written law.
A person disqualified from holding public office under the Constitution, the Political Parties Act or any other written law should not hold office in the governing body of a political party or be its founding member.
Contents Of Constitution Or Rules Of A Political Party
Section 9 of the Political Parties Act stipulates the contents of the Constitution of a Political Party in Kenya.
The Constitution or rules of every political party should provide for all the matters specified in the Second Schedule of the Political Parties Act.
The constitution or rules of every political party should ensure that not more than two-thirds of the membership of all party organs, bodies and committees, in aggregate, are of the same gender.
The Registrar of Political Parties may, by notice in writing, require a political party to amend its name, Constitution or rules within three months after the date of the notice to comply with the Constitution, the Political Parties Act and any other written law.
The notice should specify the areas of non-compliance, the nature of the amendment and the reason for such an amendment.
If a political party does not comply with the notice issued by the Registrar of Political Parties, that political party should be deregistered.
Read also about the process of deregistration of a political party.
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