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Reprieve for political parties after court suspends gender rule order

By Paul Ogemba and Judah Ben-Hur - May 11th 2022

Joint parliamentary session in the Chambers, Parliament in Nairobi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Political parties have won temporary relief after a court suspended a directive by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission on the controversial two-thirds gender rule.

Justice Anthony Ndung’u issued the order following an application by lawyer Adrian Kamotho challenging the commission’s bid disqualify parties from the August 9 elections if they do not observe the rule.

Mr Kamotho termed the move unconstitutional since it came too late when political parties had completed their nominations.

He said barring parties from the elections would deny voters a chance to elect a candidate of their choice.

The order is a relief to major political parties, which had not complied with the rule by Monday.

They were expected to submit another list of nominees by 5pm today after IEBC extended the deadline in what the commission’s Chairman Wafula Chebukati said was “keeping with the provisions of Article 83 (3) of the Constitution, which stipulates that the conduct of the elections should be facilitative.”

ODM National Elections Board Chairperson Catherine Mumma said the party had compiled another list. 

Secretary-General of UDA, Veronica Maina, said the party would issue a statement on the matter today. "We still have a day to go and we will be communicating in the course of the day," she said.

On September 21, 2020, the retired Chief Justice David Maraga, in an advisory opinion, asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to dissolve the Parliament for failure to come up with legislation to implement the two-thirds gender rule.

To date, no legislation has been made.

Currently, women make up about 21 per cent of members of the National Assembly and 30 per cent in the Senate.

In his petition, Mr Kamotho says if the IEBC directive is implemented, it will impose a communal punishment on all candidates by barring them from contesting on account that their parties did not comply with the rule.

He argues that the move "could foment a political crisis, which could trigger civil unrest considering the emotive nature of Kenyan politics.” 

He says based on IEBC own statistics, 43 out of the 81 political parties are non-compliant. “Among the parties cited as non-compliant are the leading parties including ODM, Jubilee Party, UDA, ANC, Wiper and Narc-Kenya, which means without their candidates being cleared to  contest then there will be anarchy,” he says.

He also accuses IEBC of failure to undertake public participation and civic education among voters to enlighten them on the need to comply when electing their leaders.

“Since the political parties have already done their nominations and issued the winners with nomination certificates, it will be illegal and not be possible to revoke those certificates and issue them to other candidates,” said Kamotho.

IEBC is expected to respond within three days ahead of the hearing on Wednesday.


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