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Electoral Act: Senate moves to impose direct primaries on parties

There are strong indications that the leadership of the upper chamber of the National Assembly has perfected plans to impose the direct method of conducting primary elections on political parties in the country.

 

The red chamber which is controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) was at the weekend fingered in a plot to circumvent the ongoing harmonisation of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by introducing a fresh bill on the floor of the Senate to amend the act in such a way that the law would accommodate the direct primary method only.

 

The Senate and the House of Representatives had earlier passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill but made different recommendations on the method of conducting primary elections. While the lower chamber said it should be based on Direct Primaries, the upper chamber prescribed both the Direct and Indirect methods as contained in the extant law.

 

With the different positions of both Chambers, Conference Committees were set to harmonise these two positions. Sunday Telegraph gathered that at a preliminary meeting members of the Conference Committee of the House of Representatives had agreed with the Senate on both Direct and Indirect.

 

A meeting of the Conference Committee of both Chambers which was to hold on Friday was suddenly put off, fuelling speculations that some forces were at work to manipulate the legislative process.

 

According to a source familiar with the issue, the meeting did not hold because the leadership of the Senate preferred to revisit the already passed bill and adopt the position of their colleagues from the green chamber, thereby rendering the harmonisation committee useless.

The Source said: “The Senate President and his Deputy want to bring it to the floor because they are afraid that the Conference Committee will not be able to give them what they want and that is Direct Primaries.

 

“Now they want to bring it back at Plenary as Constitution Amendment. What it means is that if they bring it to the floor, it will pass and there will be no need for harmonization by the Committee.

 

Right now, it is a matter of personal Interest.” There have been serious apprehensions about adopting the direct primary method given the propensity of political parties and the godfathers to manipulate primary elections and impose candidates on the people.

 

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