19 February 2013

Kenya: The Integrity of Elected Officers


ON Friday the High Court declined to stop Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto from standing on the Jubilee ticket (see Page 5).

The five judges said they could not rule on their integrity because the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over presidential elections.

But they made some interesting observations.

Uhuru has argued that different standards of integrity apply to elected and appointed state officers.

The ICC has confirmed charges of crimes against humanity against him but he argues this will be overruled by the popular mandate if he is elected president.

The five judges appeared to disagree. They said that the NGOs had failed to raise the integrity issues and that it is enough if there are "sufficient serious, plausible allegations which raise substantial unresolved questions about one's integrity."

In other words, a candidate can be disqualified on integrity grounds even if a prosecution is still underway.

At the presidential debate, Uhuru agreed that an appointed officer should stand aside if he is facing criminal charges. Surely an elected officer should be judged by the same yardstick, or by even stricter standards. The High Court judges seemed to agree. One day the Supreme Court should rule definitely on this weighty matter.

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