5 January 2013

Kenya: Case Against Wambui Candidature Dismissed

The High Court yesterday ruled that only the IEBC has the mandate to decide on who is qualified to contest seats in the March 4 election. This is a reprieve for aspirants with integrity questions High Court judge David Majanja dismissed a case seeking to stop businesswoman Mary Wambui from vying for Othaya parliamentary seat because of her 'wanting integrity'.

Justice Majanja ruled that it is not for High Court to determine whether Wambui is qualified to contest for a parliamentary seat or not. He said this should to be determined according to the procedures and mechanisms provided by IEBC Act.

"These qualifications are not self-enforcing but are given effect by the IEBC through the provisions of the IEBC Act and the Elections Act, 2011 which give effect to the various provisions of the Constitution governing the electoral process as a whole, the right to vote and the right to contest elections."

Justice Majanja also said the case against Wambui is premature because she has merely expressed an intention to vie and is yet to present her papers for nomination. In his ruling the judge said if any dispute arises at the nomination stage as to a candidate's suitability then the provisions of Article 88(4)(e) would apply and the IEBC is empowered to deal with any disputes.

Justice Majanja's ruling arose out of a case filed by four Othaya voters who moved to court to stop Wambui from vying as an MP. The case by the four voters Michael Nderitu, Silvester Muriithi, Daniel Karinga and Kiambati Kihumba against Wambui is twofold.

The first grievance is that she does not meet the education standards set for those who want to be elected as MPs. The second complaint is that Wambui has been adversely cited in various official reports prepared by constitutional bodies mandated to inquire into matters of public interest.

These reports included one by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the report of Waki commission which investigated into post election violence. She was also allegedly mentioned in report which investigated the conduct Armenian mercenaries known as Artur brothers. The Artur brothers raided standard newspaper.

The four had accused Wambui of financing the purchasing firearms used to perpetrate the post election violence from Ethiopia. They questioned her academic qualifications saying she never went to secondary school.

The four asked court to bar the businesswoman from running, claiming she does not meet the academic, moral and integrity requirements set in Chapter Six of the Constitution. And Wambui through lawyers Evans Monari and John Khaminwa objected to the case. She had argued that currently she is not a state office holder and therefore the provision of constitution on integrity does not apply to her.

She had also said that the power to choose who should be elected as a leader should be left to the people of Kenya and not to be determined by court. Wambui further said she has not been found guilty of any allegations in relation to the 2007-2008 post election violence. She had said the materials relied upon by the four are not conclusive of the allegations they have raised against her.

And yesterday judge Majanja said: "I do not think that the petitioner has invoked any of the procedures or mechanisms prescribed by the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012 and there is no evidence that the petitioner has lodged any complaint or grievance relating to the 1st respondent (Wambi) assuming, and without deciding, that the Act is applicable to Wambui."

He also said the suit papers do not disclose anything to show that any complaint has been lodged against Wambui and that the AG and DPP have refused to act on. So far there are two cases pending before courts on issues of integrity.

One is against Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta who are both facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. The second one is challenging William Kabogo's bid for Kiambu governor.

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