By Wahome Thuku
Just hours after a case challenging the suitability of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto to hold a public office was withdrawn, a new one has been filed at the High Court in Nairobi.
The fresh petition was filed on Friday by an NGO, International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) who were interested parties in the previous case.
Their case now targets Uhuru and Ruto directly as respondents together with the Attorney General and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The two were not parties in the previous petition filed in January by three political activists Charles Omanga, Mr Patrick Njuguna and Augustine Neto (now Ndiwa MP). They had just applied to be enjoined as interested parties when it was withdrawn by the petitioners on Thursday.
The petitioners had sought a determination on whether Uhuru and Ruto can pass the test of integrity under Chapter Six of the Constitution with the trial for crimes against humanity pending against them at the International Criminal Court (ICC). But they had only named the AG as respondent.
The trials for Ruto and Uhuru at The Hague begin on April 10 and 11. Uhuru is charged with former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura in the second case, while Ruto is charged in the first case with radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.
In September, the petitioners amended the case to include the names of Raila, Mudavadi, and Kalonzo. They raised questions about their suitability for public office over varying allegations ranging from abuse of office, nepotism and corruption, among others.
But judges Isaac Lenaola, Mohamed Warsame and Philomena Mwilu rejected the amendments leaving only Uhuru and Ruto’s names in the original suit.
The petitioners then opted to withdraw the case on Thursday, preparing to file it again to include the three other aspirants.
Their lawyer Ambrose Weda said theirs was a “tactical retreat for a few hours”, which did not mean Uhuru, Ruto and others were off the hook. He told the court that with the AG alone as respondent, the issue of integrity would not be properly addressed. “We need to ensure that the others are brought in,” he added.
The ICPC opposed the application for withdrawal. Their lawyer Lempaa Suyanka argued the heavy public interest in the matter could not be extinguished just because the petitioners wished to withdraw.