23 November 2012

Kenya: Uhuru, Ruto Integrity Case Must Proceed - Court

Nairobi — The integrity case against presidential aspirants Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto will begin next Thursday after newly appointed Court of Appeal Judges Mohammed Warsame and Philomena Mwilu declined to disqualify themselves.

The two judges sitting at the High Court in Milimani alongside Justice Isaac Lenaola dismissed a petition by activist Patrick Njuguna who had argued that the two cannot continue to hear the case.

The bench on Friday ruled that the case will have to start next week without fail because of the great public interest it has attracted and the time left ahead of the March 4 general election.

Njuguna wanted the judges to disqualify themselves since Appeal Court judges cannot handle a matter before the High Court.

He also argued that justice may not be seen to be done in view of the court's decision to remove Prime Minister Raila Odinga, DPM Musalia Mudavadi and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka from the petition.

"Please note that in view of the decision you had made in the matter removing some of the respondents and the comments you made, we are of the view that - as much as we have confidence in your lordships - justice may not be seen to be done if you all continue to hear the matters herein," Njuguna argued.

The court however said petitioners in the case had concentrated on sideshows and have not even served the respondents (Kenyatta and Ruto).

"The fact that the petitioners have not even done the basics; even after being ordered to serve the respondents leaves no doubt that they are engaging in evasive actions of filing applications that do not move the petition towards final determination, " the court ruled.

The judges also ruled that the case will now have to continue whether or not Kenyatta and Ruto will have been served.

The bench says the proceedings cannot be stopped even with the appeal on enjoining Odinga, Musyoka and Mudavadi.

Njuguna through lawyer Ambrose Weda wanted the case to only go ahead after the Court of Appeal determined issues of integrity raised against the five presidential aspirants.

He accused the three judges of overly getting technical while exonerating Odinga, Musyoka and Mudavadi from the proceedings.

"We would like the Court of Appeal to address what we think are the core issues of this petition first, " Weda told the court.

On September 27 the High Court struck out the names of Odinga, Musyoka and Mudavadi from the case saying that their names were enjoined in the suit without following due process.

On Wednesday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said only the courts can determine whether Kenyatta and Ruto will run for the presidency.

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