By Koki Muli
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is mandated to vet all the candidates for elective/party lists positions and guarantee to Kenyans that they are qualified to vie.
The Constitution and Elections Act provide that candidates for the elections of Senator, Member of the National Assembly and County Assembly must have minimum educational qualification of post secondary school qualification recognised in Kenya.However, a candidate for election as President, Deputy President, County Governor or Deputy County Governor must be a holder of a degree from a university recognised in Kenya.
State and public officers other than those holding the positions of the President; the Deputy President; or Member of Parliament or County Assemblies (including councillors) must resign their public offices seven months before the elections and other than for their campaigns, candidates cannot participate in any harambee or fundraising eight months before or during elections.
Presidential candidates and their running mates must be Kenyans by birth who do not owe allegiance to a foreign state. They must also be a holder of degrees recognised in Kenya, should be qualified to stand for election as a member of Parliament; is nominated by a political party, or is an independent candidate. They must also be nominated by not fewer than 2000 voters from each or a majority the counties.
In addition, a person is eligible for election as a Member of Parliament (Senate and National Assembly (MP) or a County Representative (CR). A CR independent candidate should be supported by at least 5000 registered voters in the ward concerned if registered as a voter; is nominated by a political party, or is an independent candidate.
One can only vie as independent candidate if they were party-less three months before the elections. They must be supported – in the case of election to the National Assembly – by at least 1,000 registered voters in the constituency; or in the case of election to the Senate, by at least 2000 registered voters in the county.
One is disqualified to vie as MP if s/he is a State officer or other public officer, other than an MP or CR; has, at any time within the five years immediately preceding the date of election, held office as a member of the IEBC. One is also disqualified if he has not been a citizen of Kenya for at least 10 years immediately preceding the date of election; is a member of a county assembly; is of unsound mind; is an un-discharged bankrupt.
Disqualification also arises if one is found, in accordance with any law, to have misused or abused a State office or public office or in any way to have contravened Chapter Six of the Constitution dealing with leadership integrity. The Elections Act provides that, to be disqualified under Chapter Six “all possibility of appeal or review of the relevant sentence or decision has been exhausted.”
However, the Constitution is superior to the Elections Act and since this provision is not in the Constitution, it cannot supersede the Constitution. Only the High Court will determine whether suspects and accused persons can vie for elective positions. Chapter Six of the Constitution states that the guiding principles of leadership and integrity include – selection on the basis of personal integrity, competence and suitability, or election in free and fair elections.
Other principles include objectivity and impartiality in decision making, and in ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices; selfless service based solely on the public interest, demonstrated by – honesty in the execution of public duties.
The declaration of any personal interest that may conflict with public duties; accountability to the public for decisions and actions; and discipline and commitment in service to the people complete the guiding principles. Parliament will enact legislation to make this chapter operational; however, that legislation cannot be unconstitutional.
The writer is an elections and constitutional law expert and lecturer, South Eastern University College