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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Looming Storm In TNA As Party Chairman, Johnson Sakaja Given Ultimatum To Resign In Days

Johnson Sakaja
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party is in the throes of a battle over its top seat following the appointment of a key official to Parliament.

The National Alliance ( TNA) Chairman Johnson Sakaja has been given an ultimatum to resign by June 9 or face “forceful eviction”, we have established.

This follows a stormy meeting of the party’s National Oversight Board (NOB) held on Monday that gave Mr Sakaja 21 days within which to voluntarily relinquish the post.

The meeting, which was held at the UK Centre, begun at 3pm on Monday and ran five hours. The board concluded that Mr Sakaja’s nomination to Parliament made him a State officer and disqualified him under the law from holding national office in a political party.

It was agreed to give him three weeks to decide whether to quit as chairman of The National Alliance or resign from Parliament.

Law clear But speaking to The Standard On Saturday, Mr Sakaja said: “I will tell you what I told you last time: The law is very clear, if anybody has a problem let them go to court”.

Monday’s meeting was so stormy that some members of the NOB wanted an interim chairman appointed immediately. “Some members wanted us to appoint an interim chairman the same day and then organise for a National Delegates Conference later,” said a NOB member who attended the meeting. However, the proposal died when Mr Sakaja, who was at the meeting, shot up and said he was ready to contest any proposal to replace him in court.

The NOB, therefore, decided to give the chairman time to think over the matter. Mr Sakaja believes the law does not prevent him from being the chairman of TNA serving as a nominated Member of Parliament at the same time.

“The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, is very clear as who is prohibited from holding office in a political party,” he stated in a previous interview. “It talks about an appointed State officer; I am not an appointed State officer.”

Article 77 (2) of the Constitution reads, in part: “Any appointed State officer shall not hold office in a political party.” NOB members expressed concerns that Mr Sakaja’s statements in Parliament, including at Press conferences as an MP, are being misinterpreted as the positions of the party. “Statements the chairman makes in his capacity as an MP may not necessarily reflect the opinion of the party,” said a member of the oversight body.

“Party officials receive complaints or questions relating to the procedure followed in taking some positions (on issues where) the chairman was talking on his own behalf.”
Protect party But Sakaja told journalists: “If a decision must be made about my suitability, it’s up to the courts,” Sakaja told this journalist.

“ TNA is a party we have built from scratch. Kenyans have seen our performance. My duty is to protect our members from opportunists who are only looking at the resources (it will receive). We must protect our party from a few greedy individuals.”

Since conclusion of the General Election, the President’s party has been caught up in supremacy battles. For instance, a female party official is currently contesting the nomination of former KBC journalist Naisula Lesuuda to the Senate.

Another official who was reported to have signed papers filed in court in this battle has since withdrawn his support and gone ahead to indicate he was a neutral player in the matter when it became apparent higher forces within the Jubilee Coalition were opposed to the pursuit of the matter.

Lesuuda was also involved in peace campaigns prior to her nomination.

National officials of political parties, especially those with wide representation in Parliament, will wield immense power in coming years, given that they oversee the expenditure of grants from the Political Parties Fund.

It is expected that the Jubilee coalition, which is dominated by TNA and the United Republican Party, will get about Sh5 billion over the next five years from the Political Parties Fund.

The party is planning to launch a five-year strategic plan in a month’s time...Courtesy of Mashariaz

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