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Group lays claim to ‘Okoa Kenya’ name

CORD’S MOVE | Wetang’ula says coalition had reserved name and warns registrar against allowing third party to claim it Group lays claim to ‘Okoa Kenya’ name. After opposition leaders introduced slogan at Saba Saba rally, politicians move to register it as a political party

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A group opposed to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is in the final stages of quietly registering a political party called “Okoa Kenya” (Save Kenya), from the slogan unveiled by Cord leaders at the recent Saba Saba rally, the Sunday Nation can reveal. 

But, in a turn of events that could cause an intriguing battle, Cord yesterday said it had reserved the name with the registrar of political parties and nobody should be allowed to use it. 

Sources say a section of Nyanza politicians hostile to Mr Odinga’s push for a referendum have joined forces with political activists affiliated to the Jubilee Alliance to copyright the slogan, in what could be a strategy to restrict the Opposition from using it as a rallying call. 

At the July 7 rally at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, Cord used the slogan “Okoa Kenya” as it unveiled a 13-point agenda that it said highlighted the country’s problems. 

Yesterday, Cord co-principal Moses Wetang’ula said the coalition had earlier instructed its secretariat to secure the name to ward off other groups from hijacking it. 

“We already put a caution on it [the name] because we knew these people were going to panic,” he said. 

But the group that is against Cord and that is now in the process of registering the name has contacted the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties to reserve the name as it prepares to formally file registration documents. 

“I have received a request for the name from advocates [acting on behalf of the proposed interim party officials] but the official application for registration has not been filed,” the Registrar, Ms Lucy Ndung’u, said in response to our inquiries. 

Ms Ndung’u, who declined to disclose the identity of the lawyers or their clients, stated that her office had responded to the request. 

“They have just applied for the name and we have responded. We are yet to receive the names of the interim officials which will be in the documents asking for registration,” said Ms Ndung’u. 

Sources privy to the group’s strategy, who requested anonymity, say the proposed party had lined up eight interim officials — four from Mr Odinga’s political bedrock of Nyanza and four from the Central region — perceived to be the ruling coalition Jubilee’s stronghold. 

Mr Wetang’ula warned the registrar against allowing the use of the “Okoa Kenya” name by any group other than Cord. 

“If the registrar does anything contrary to the law, then we will fight it out in court,” he said. 

According to the Political Parties Act, the Opposition coalition Cord could face sanctions if it continued to use the “Okoa Kenya” slogan should the registration by a different group succeed. 

There have been instances in the past where individuals registered political parties for speculative purposes before “selling” them to “stranded” politicians or giving the party ticket to those who lost in the primaries of bigger political outfits. 

The name Orange Democratic Movement that was coined by the victorious “No” side in the 2005 constitution referendum was later found to have been registered by lawyer Mugambi Imanyara as a party. He later provided a soft landing ahead of the 2007 elections for politicians who had been locked out of ODM Kenya by the Kalonzo Musyoka group. 

Still, the Political Parties Act is meant to restore sanity by instituting stringent registration procedures and discouraging personality-based parties. 

However, political parties in Kenya revolve around personalities and having a registered party may not mean much. 

-Nation

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