Court: Gender rule to be implemented progressively

By Isaiah Lucheli

The Supreme Court has ruled that the one third gender rule cannot apply to the March 4 general elections but will be done progressively.

The highest court in Kenya however ruled that the gender rule must be attained by August 2015.

This means that the gender rule will be realised in stages and not immediately after the general elections.

The majority judges ruling was read by Justice Jackton Ojwang. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga gave a dissenting ruling.

The Supreme Court judges delivered the ruling in a case filed by Attorney General Githu Muigai who sought an advisory opinion on the one-third gender rule provided under the constitution.

The AG was seeking a way out of the controversy and the stalemate caused by the constitutional requirement that at least one-third of the members of elective public body must be of one gender.

This requirement puts at 117 the minimum number of MPs from either gender. The issue generated contentious debate ahead of the March 4, 2013 general elections, particularly on how the number will be achieved.

The AG had sought an advisory opinion on whether the one-third gender requirement rule should be implemented in next year’s general election or whether it’s progressive to be implemented gradually.

He also wanted a different opinion on whether after the first round in a presidential election an unsuccessful candidate or any other person can file a petition to the court challenging the outcome.

Civil society groups dealing with gender and political were enjoined in the suit as friends of the court.

They include women lawyers body Fida-Kenya, Crew, Center for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), Katiba Institute and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Other state bodies including the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the National Gender and Equality Commission and the Commission for Administrative Justice have been enjoined as parties to the case since they are State organs.