30 May 2012

Kenya: IEBC Loses First Round of Polls Boundaries Cases

The electoral body yesterday lost first limb of its opposition to cases challenging the creation of new constituency boundaries.

A five judge bench disagreed with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on when a gazette notice on creation of new constituency boundaries takes effect.

The judges said in their view April 10 is the last day of filing cases challenging boundaries contrary to the date of April 5 suggested by IEBC. Having held that the judges went ahead and dismissed plea by IEBC to dismiss cases filed after April 5.

However the judges dismissed some two cases which were filed after the April 10 deadline saying that there is no provision for this deadline to be extended. The short ruling by the judges arose out of an objection raised by IEBC. The commission wanted the cases dismissed without being heard on grounds that they were filed outside the time frame provided in law.

And with the preliminary objection out of the way the court will officially start hearing the cases in Nairobi from June 4 to 7. The cases in Mombasa will be heard on June 8. Many of the parties are questioning whether IEBC created the boundaries in accordance with Article 89 of the Constitution. The five judges will also determine whether the court has power as provided under the constitution to grant the reliefs sought.

Most of the parties also accuse IEBC of creating the 80 new constituencies and wards without consulting all the interested parties. "The court will also determine whether or not the IEBC has gerrymandered in the determination of the boundaries of wards and constituencies the subject hereof if so, in what manner," reads part of the issues framed by a group of lawyers from Nairobi.

Some lawyers have accused the electoral body of disregarding the views of the people in contravention of Article 47 of the constitution or the rules of natural justice. They says IEBC failed to take into account the set out criteria and principles for the delimitation of boundaries, which include the population quota, geographical features, and community interests, historical, economic and cultural ties of the people and means of communication.

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