Cotu’s petition on nominees dismissed

By Kurian Musa

Kenya: The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) has suffered a blow in its bid to challenge the manner in which political parties select nominees to Parliament.

High Court judge Justice Isaac Lenaola dismissed a preliminary objection filed by Cotu saying he has no jurisdiction over the matter.

“It is more of an election petition than constitutional issue. Once the window closed for filing the election petition, the petitioner lost the opportunity to challenge the manner in which political parties constituted party list,” said Mr Lenaola.

Cotu had challenged the nomination list presented by seven political parties; TNA, ODM, Wiper, Ford K, UDF, and also IEBC and Attorney General, arguing that it violated their members’ constitutional rights.

The union had argued that the law requires that one of the nominees should have been a member of Cotu.

Cotu through lawyer Hellen Ngessa had sought a declaration that the party list that consisted of 12 nominees to the National Assembly and the Senate was a breach to their constitutional rights.

Ms Ngessa submitted that the organisation represents workers and its intention is to protect the rights of workers and the sanctity of the Constitution.

She challenged IEBC’s decision to gazette nominees to the National Assembly on March 20, 2013 as null and void. Lenaola however, agreed with the political parties’ submissions that the petition was not properly done before the court.

In its submissions, Ford K had told the court that it had complied with all the legal requirements before submitting its list of nominees.

“The party nominees list should be done before elections and this was done yet Cotu did not object,” submitted the party’s lawyer Michael Ouma. He further argued that Cotu should go to the political parties’ tribunal if it was aggrieved.

“The Honorable Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the Petition dated and filed on August 7, 2013, which is improperly before it and was filed in violation of the mandatory provisions of the Constitution, the Elections Act, 2011 and the Political Parties Act and should therefore be dismissed,” Mr Ouma told the court.

Principal State Counsel Jeanette Mwangi supported the objection sayingthe Political Parties Tribunal was the right forum to challenge the alleged failure of the political parties to nominate a person registered as a member of Cotu.