The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Uhuru, Ruto Integrity Case Speeded Up

CHANCES of the integrity case touching on the candidacy of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto being concluded quickly were revived yesterday when the High court dismissed two applications that would have delayed the matter.

Dismissing the applications, the judges said the matter was of great public importance but expressed concern that some of the applicants, who had filed the case had done little to ensure that its hearing was expedited.

The judges--Justices Isaac Lenaola, Mohammed Warsame and Philomena Mwilu--said they will not be drawn into "sideshows" some of the petitioners were engaging in adding they would not tolerate any further delays in the matter.

The judges dismissed the first application by one of the petitioners-- Patrick Njuguna --who had applied for the judges to disqualify themselves from hearing the case for reasons he did not disclose.

Njuguna had, through his lawyer Ambrose Weda, sent a letter to Justice Lenaola saying that he and the other petitioners intended to make a formal application detailing the reasons they wanted the judges to disqualify themselves. He said they wanted to make their application in a closed session away from the glare of the media.

In the letter seen by the Star, Njuguna says that he was unhappy by the court's ruling removing Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, his deputy Musalia Mudavadi and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka as respondents in the case. He was also unhappy with some comments made by the court.

But the judges rejected his request to be given time to make the formal application and instead directed him to argue it in open court. Weda said he would argue the application "in protest" but this was dismissed by the judges who said Njuguna had done little to argue the case and was in fact the one who was frustrating the hearing of the petition.

The judges cited Njuguna's failure to serve Kenyatta and Ruto with the petition even after he was directed to do so in August as one of the ways he was frustrating the hearing of the petition.

They also cited the petitioner's failure to fix the matter for hearing even after being ordered to do so as yet another indication of their intention to frustrate the matter.

The judges said they were clear in their minds that the petitioners were enjoying the fact that the matter was drawing a lot of public interest but were doing little to move the case forward adding that any delay would not be tolerated.

The judges asked Weda to argue the second application in which the petitioners want the case to be stopped pending an appeal they intend to file. In the appeal, Njuguna wants to re-introduce the names of the five leading presidential aspirants as respondents in the case.

Njuguna said his application had overwhelming chances of success and it would be rendered useless if the case before the three judges was allowed to proceed.

Attorney General Githu Muigai who is represented by State Counsel Stella Munyi argued against this application saying the appeal had yet to be filed and Njuguna had not demonstrated how the continued hearing of the petition would render the appeal useless.

The judges agreed with the AG saying: "The petitioner has been engaging in evasive action filing one application after another, which do not move the petition towards its finalization."

The judges added that instead of activating the petition which the court has indicated will be heard on a priority basis, Njuguna was instead talking of an appeal which has not even been filed.

They said the intention seemed to have the court blamed for delaying the hearing of the petition. The court rejected the application to stop the proceedings and directed Weda to file his submissions ahead of the hearing on November 29.

In the case, the petitioners who were initially five, sought orders to restrain the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from accepting the nomination of any candidate who has been committed to trial for serious criminal charges under Kenyan and International law.

Uhuru and Ruto, are facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court and are currently engaged in campaigns to be elected president.

The petitioners have sought the interpretation of Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity claiming Uhuru's and Ruto's participation in the elections as candidate would be a " recipe for chaos and perpetuate the culture of impunity in the country.

" Although they have not been named as respondents, Kenyatta and Ruto have adversely been mentioned in the petition.

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