Kenya: Big Names Survive Poll Disputes
Nairobi — The Nominations Dispute Resolution Committee of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) completed its mandate on Monday dismissing 64 out of 207 petitions following failure of attendance by complainants.
The committee led by commissioners Thomas Letangule dismissed complaints against Immigration Ministers Otieno Kajwang’, Amos Kimunya, MPs Shakeel Shabir and Jakoyo Midiwo.
The cases against the four were dismissed for insufficient evidence that would have necessitated a change in decisions earlier submitted by their respective parties.
Political parties conceded to 29 applications during the three days of hearings and hence did not need determination.
Kajwang’ faced a case by a voter Edward Ochieng’ in which he argued that the Immigration Minister did not hold sufficient credentials to vie for the Homa Bay County senate seat.
The fact that his name was once struck of the LSK’s advocates’ roll was the main bone of contention that came back to haunt him, with Ochieng’ arguing that it put a dent into his leadership qualities.
The disputes committee however rejected the prayers sought to disqualify Kajwang’ saying that it was out of their jurisdiction to deal with credentials of candidates.
“In the case against Kajwang’, the issue raised was not within the mandate of the committee,” the panel ruled.
The ruling on the Kajwang’ case was however marred by allegations of a secret meeting between four of the committee members with one presidential aspirant who allegedly intervened “seeking to save his career.”
Lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui presented the complaint from a column in a local daily seeking that the committee comes clean on its activities.
Kinyanjui who was not appearing for any of the parties interested in the Homa Bay Governor’s seat said that it was important for the committee to shades light on the matter to clear questions on its integrity and independence.
The IEBC commissioners led by Letangule however denied meeting any presidential, gubernatorial or parliamentary aspirant, instead accusing Kinyanjui of being an attention seeker.
“We had a long day on Sunday and left the hotel where we were preparing our report at 3am in the night. We were back again at 8am today (Monday). We are a very balanced committee if you look at our report and we are not in the business of meeting aspirants,” he said.
Midiwo who is the outgoing Gem MP was also cleared for the March 4 general election after the IEBC disputes team dismissed a complaint against him saying he got direct nomination.
Aspirant Elisha Odhiambo who was reportedly declared the winner after the primaries has unrelentingly indicated that he won the ticket, although the party’s National Election Board decided to give Midiwo the nomination certificate.
Letangule proposed that the Elections Act be amended to ensure that political parties hold nominations in good time to allow for an easy time to resolve disputes.
Nearly all political parties conducted their nominations just a day to the January 18 deadline provided for by the Elections Act.
“We were just constituted after the nominations and moving forward we do recommend that parties be regulated to conduct primaries well before the period that are allowed ends,” he said.
Aspirants are now expected to submit their nomination papers to the IEBC offices starting with presidential aspirants on Tuesday.
Those seeking to be members of the National Assembly will present their papers to the returning officers in the respective constituencies between January 31 and February 1.