16 February 2013

Kenya: Uhuru, Ruto Can Run in Elections, Court Rules

THE chances of Uhuru Kenyatta becoming Kenya's forth president were boosted yesterday when the High Court declined to stop him from contesting the March 4 election.

In a unanimous judgment, a bench of five judges said that any matter touching on a presidential candidate can only be handled by the Supreme Court which has the exclusive jurisdiction to hear such disputes.

The judges said that any aggrieved party can also petition the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission or the Senate. Dismissing the case filed by three NGOs, the court faulted the petitioners for failing to try other avenues before rushing to court.

They said that there was no evidence that the NGOs wrote to the IEBC requesting them to bar Uhuru and his running mate William Ruto.On their integrity, the court said that there was no evidence of any inquiry having been conducted by the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission.

The judges said blocking Uhuru would prejudice TNA supporters and violate their democratic rights. "It has neither been alleged that they have been subjected to any court case locally and it cannot be presumed that a conviction will be arrived at the ICC," the judges found.

The judges said Uhuru and Ruto are still presumed innocent despite the charges of crimes against humanity that they are facing at the International Criminal Court.

The judges said it was too late to respond to the NGOs' request that the IEBC stop the nominations of Uhuru and Ruto as their certificates had already been issued.

The International Centre for Policy and Conflict, the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists and Kenya Human Rights Commission had moved to court seeking to determine whether the two are eligible to run for office as they were facing criminal charges at The Hague. They said that Chapter Six of the Constitution will be violated because of integrity issues after their charges were confirmed by the ICC.

"If it was to be argued that the third and fourth respondent (Kenyatta and Ruto) do not meet the integrity bar, then the institution that have the power to deal with the issue is the IEBC," ruled Justices Msagha Mbogholi, Luka Kimaru, Hellen Omondi, Pauline Nyamweya and George Kimondo. The court rejected a request that the Waki envelope be given to the court. "I welcome the high court ruling today.

It has affirmed what we have always held; the people of Kenya--and they alone--have the power and the mandate to determine the leadership of this great country.

Kenya has come of age and the people of Kenya can never go wrong," said Uhuru after the ruling. Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that he welcomed the High Court ruling that the Supreme Court had "exclusive and original jurisdiction" in matters relating to the presidential election.

"I have repeatedly said that my main competitor should have the opportunity to face me in a free and fair election whose outcome is determined by the people of Kenya," Raila said in a statement sent out by his adviser Salim Lone.

After the ruling, hundreds of Jubilee supporters in TNA teeshirts started dancing and chanting pro-Uhuru and Ruto slogans. Of their rivals, they said "we will also floor them".

The supporters started arriving at the Milimani law courts as early as 8am but were barred from entering the court building by police. The decision was commended by lawyers Kibe Mungai and Katwa Kigen but ICPC lawyer Suiyanka Lempaa said that they were considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The court also rejected a plea to bar former assistant minister James Gesame from vying for tWest Mugirango parliamentary seat as he had been acquitted of misusing CDF cash of over Sh1 million.

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