Uhuru, ex-MPs may not contest over taxes

By Ally Jamah

NAIROBI,KENYA: The Independent  Elections and  Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is considering a petition to have Jubilee Coalition presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, his running mate  William Ruto, a dozen cabinet Ministers and ex-MPs barred from contesting in the general elections for non-payment of taxes.

IEBC officially received the petition this morning from civil society leaders, who filed and won a court case against refusal by 209 MPs to pay their taxes.

The civil society insists that leaders who have not cleared their taxes have no business participating in the crucial March general elections.

IEBC Manager Legal Services Mohamud Jabane, who officially received the petition, confirmed that the electoral body will consider the petition together with the court ruling issued last Thursday as well as relevant laws before making an appropriate announcement.

"We take the petition seriously. We will study it thoroughly before giving a considered response soonest,” he said.
This development comes as IEBC's  deadline for political parties to submit names of their candidates for various posts ended on Monday with the electoral body set to scrutinise the names  to see if they meet the required thresholds

If the controversial petition is accepted by the electoral body,  it would result in a major crisis as many candidates garnering for various posts from President to Senator, Governor and MPs may be barred from running unless they quickly settle their debts with the tax man.

"To us, this is a very straightforward matter. Leaders who have not been paying their taxes cannot possibly make good leaders and should be barred until their clear their debt owed to Kenyans, “said the President of The National Civil Society Congress Morris Odhiambo.

He added: "We also petition the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to recommend that unless MPs clear their tax arrears, they should not be cleared by IEBC to run in the elections."

At the height of the controversy over MPs non-payment of taxes, some leaders including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, presidential candidate Peter Kenneth among others agreed to pay their taxes thereby winning wide public acclaim.

Sheikh Ahmed Ramadhan of the Nubian Rights Forum told the standard that KRA S Odhiambo warned that should IEBC fail to take action on the politicians in line with the petition, they would go to court to have it enforced to boost integrity standards demanded by the Constitution.

 The petition wants 209 MPs out of the total 222, including cabinet Ministers, to be barred from the March general elections if they don’t clear their tax arrears soonest.

Among the big names who have allegedly not cleared up their taxes include  Ministers Sally Kosgey, Chris Obure, Anyang' Nyong'o, Ababu Namwamba,  Wycliffe Oparanya,  William Ruto,  Paul Otuoma,  Uhuru Kenyatta,,  Yusuf Haji,  Mohammed Kuti,  Samuel Poghisio,  Katoo olee Mitito, Charity Ngilu, Chirau Ali Mwakwere,  Soita Shitanda,  William Ole Ntimama,  Otieno Kajwang,  Mutula Kilonzo,  Dalmas Otieno,  Esther Murugi, Sam Ongeri,  Robinson Githae, Mohammed Elmi,  James Orengo,  Henry Kosgey,  Naomi Shabaan, Moses Wetangula and Fred Gumo among others. 

Executive Director of pressure group Release Political Prisoners (RPP) Oyoko Odhiambo said that the agreement between KRA and the Parliamentary Service Commission  to have the tax arrears of MPs be deducted gradually as illegal and unrecognised by law.

"In Principle, MPs who have refused to pay taxes do not meet the integrity thresholds to gold public office" he said.

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