Use alternative ways to conduct primaries, political parties told – The Star, Kenya

All political parties have been ordered to use alternative means to conduct party primaries.
This is to include minority and marginalised communities who cannot access the internet.
This is after Centre for Minority Rights Development moved to court challenging the Integrated Political Parties Management System that was launched late last year.
According to court papers, the objective of the system is to be the primary and only platform to manage the political parties’ membership register.
The system will also avail the following services to Kenyans: checking of membership status, joining a party of choice and resigning from a party.
However, the group said that the digitisation of such cardinal services contravenes the political rights of minorities and indigenous peoples living in Kenya.
Justice George Odunga issued orders on Thursday in High Court at Machakos directing political parties to use other means and not solely rely on IPPMS pending hearing and determination of the case filed. 
The group filed the case on behalf of Willliam Sipai and Noah Kitarpei Matunge and thousands of Kenyans from marginalised communities.
According to court papers, Sipai is a resident of Kitet Kedong from the Keekenyokia clan of the larger Maasai pastoralist community.
In his affidavit, Sipai said that for him and his community members to participate in the upcoming party primaries, they would have to register with a political party through the IPPMS, which exercise is to be concluded by May 26, 2022. 
He told court that as a clan they do not have the technologies, gadgets and access to the internet to access the IPPMS.
“The lack of access to the IPPMS and the party list therein impedes my ability to form a political party of my choice,” Sipai said. 
“[It also interferes with] my ability to nominate my candidate of choice from my community, or support candidates that are aligned to my personal or communal interests.”
Sipai said the reliance of technology for digital party registration, as a condition to participate in the political parties primaries, will disenfranchise them and curtail their participation in political activities.
 “The Kenyan minorities and indigenous communities represent a section of the populace that is limited in access to technology,” the court papers said. 
“The integration of the services to an online system will further disenfranchise these groups.” 
The group further said the inability to access the IPPMS, to register for, or change party membership, will be greatly prejudicial to members of minorities and indigenous peoples, and thereby violate their right to participation.
“This, without any justifiable reason, discriminates against minorities and indigenous peoples, who by no choice of theirs, find themselves outside the internet use map, and grossly violates the Constitution of Kenya,” they said.
They further accuse the state of launching the IPPMS without public participation.
The group says the action is retrogressive and, more so, quashes the lifeline offered to minorities and indigenous communities through the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution.
The organisation said it only learnt through social media that the state launched the IPPMS on e-Citizen which would make the system the primary and only platform to manage the political parties membership.
The group further said the persistence of the state to employ the IPPMS will be affect the political engagement and participation of their members during the August 9 general election.
(edited by Amol Awuor)
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