The Star (Nairobi)

11 August 2012

Kenya: Murang'a Council Row Paralyses Operations

A leadership row has paralysed operations in the Murang'a County Council offices after a group of councillors obtained a court order nullifying elections. Rivalry between two groups of councillors, one supporting presidential candidates Uhuru Kenya, and the other supporting Peter Kenneth, manifested itself during an election which was held three days ago.

The election saw a group of councillors allied to Kenneth lose their seats at the council committees. This forced a group of 10 councillors to obtain a court order to nullify the elections. The court document stated that the office holders, who were toppled, to be reinstated until a court case over the elections is determined. Yesterday, councillor Rahab Muthoni, through lawyer Karanja Ngugi, obtained the order on behalf of 10 civic leaders.

The elections for chairpersons of various committees were held by a section of civic leaders leading to a dispute. "It is hereby ordered that the annual general meeting and the committee chairperson elections held on 3 July 2012 by the respondent be and is hereby declared illegal and invalid," stated the order. The document seen by the Star was signed by Murang'a Resident Magistrate J Wekesa and further stated that the status quo prior to the elections be maintained.

The elections were held despite an earlier order barring the exercise and promptly led to the arrest of Town Clerk Jacob Muthamia. Muthamia was consequently charged with contempt of court but was released on a free bond with the case set for August 14. The aggrieved councilors have also acquired another order to compel the council provide full minutes of meeting held before the August 3 elections. The council committees affected include Finance, Planning, Social, HIV and AIDS, Environment and Audit. Others are Staff and General Purposes and Tourism and Agriculture.

Investigations revealed that the elections were a supremacy battle between two presidential candidates but Cllr Isaac Kagenya denied that saying those were just internal wrangles. "We should not drag the names of Uhuru and Kenneth in the council affairs, the election have nothing to do with the supremacy battle between the two presidential aspirants," added Kagenya.

The Kiria-ini ward councilor also said the council was rocked in board room wars which culminated in the disputed elections. "After the elections were held unprocedurely, we rushed to court and obtained the orders that they be nullified and the court granted our wish," she said yesterday. The civic leader said she was notified of the election three days prior to the exercise instead of the seven days as stipulated in the law. "We had obtained an earlier order barring any elections and that is why the clerk was arrested for disobeying the order," added Cllr Njuru.

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