6 February 2013

Kenya: Attorney General, IEBC Oppose Uhuru Integrity Case

Photo: Mirjam van den Berg/RNW
The ICC building at The Hague, Netherlands.

The case challenging the eligibility of Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto in the March 4 election kicked off on Wednesday before a five-judge bench in Nairobi.

The Attorney General and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries and Commission have asked the judges to dismiss the case saying the High Court has no jurisdiction to deal with presidential election disputes.

The two also argued that matters before the court are purely speculative because it is not outright that Kenyatta and Ruto will be elected in next month's poll.

On his part, the AG argued that the Ethics and Anti Corruption is the institution that should first handle issues of leadership and integrity as mandated by the law.

Lawyer Evans Monari who represented Kenyatta urged the court to dismiss the case, because it is funded by organisations like the Open Society of the USA which has an interest in the matter.

"All the petitions have been filed by individuals and organisations that are interrelated and whose source of funding is primarily the Open Society of America and whose objective is to disrupt our democratic processes and whose objective is aimed at whipping the sentiments of the people of Kenya against a candidate or candidates. My submission is that these petitions should be dismissed in limine," Monari argued.

In his argument, Monari said the issue of integrity should not arise because Kenyatta's case in The Hague is bound to fail after the main witness implicating him was dropped from the ICC witness list after recanting his evidence.

"The particular witness number IV has been dropped. He has said that the evidence that he gave was a fraud and the embarrassment to the prosecution has led the prosecutor to drop that particular witness so even if you were to open that case to see whether there were integrity cases today there is no case against the third respondent that is capable of standing trial at the ICC," he added.

Katwa Kigen who is representing Ruto also held that the High Court does not have jurisdiction to hear the integrity case filed by the International Centre for Peace and Conflict.

Lawyer Kibe Mungai for The National Alliance says the case should be dismissed since the petitioners have used prejudicial terms that are not recognized by the election laws - including words like suitability and eligibility. He argued that 'suitability' and 'eligibility' should not be used to bar anyone.

"This court is being asked to go outside the law based on arguments which is not recognised in the law," he said.

"If the orders are allowed, it would not only the grievance of William Ruto or Uhuru Kenyatta but that of millions of their supporters. And that would be in disregard of the public interest and doctrine of universal suffrage," Mungai added.

He also said the issue of guilt or otherwise of Kenyatta and Ruto is a matter which is before another court - the International Criminal Court - and as such the High Court cannot adjudicate on it.

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