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Will IEBC clear Waititu for city governor’s job?

By Roselyne Obala | Dec 30th 2020 | 3 min read

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu during an interview in Nairobi on Tuesday, December 29, 2020 [David Njaaga, Standard]

Registrar of Political Parties says her role was to ensure that Waititu had resigned from a political party within the stipulated period.

The electoral agency is likely to face a litmus test in the coming days in clearing candidates for the Nairobi City County governor by-election.

This comes even as The Standard established that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party and Raila Odinga’s ODM are exploring options to field a joint candidate to replace ousted Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

Deputy President William Ruto is, however, reported to be backing former assistant minister and close ally Margaret Wanjiru, who is yet to declare her vehicle for the seat.

However, the ticking bomb for IEBC is the declaration of interest by former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, which has raised legal questions over his suitability.

Leaders and legal experts have weighed in on the matter, arguing that in the case of Waititu and Sonko, they are barred by law from contesting any seat unless the courts quash their impeachments by the Senate.

Lawyer Steve Ogolla said a judicial interpretation was required as Kenyans might not comprehend the complex legal questions arising from Waititu’s candidature.

“We now have to rely on IEBC’s reading of the law which can go either way. This is why we need a definitive judicial pronouncement to settle the issue,” he urged.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki during the impeachment debate of Nairobi governor Mike Sonko at parliament buildings, Nairobi. December 16th,2020.? [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

But according to Senator Kithure Kindiki, impeached county chiefs cannot subsequently run for election to the office of governor or any other State or public office ever again within Kenya, unless the impeachment is successfully challenged and quashed by a court of law.

“It appears from the wordings of the Constitution, a person charged in court but is yet to be convicted or one who has been convicted but has not exhausted the appeal avenues can be cleared to vie for political office, but not one who is removed from office whether by court or impeachment or any other way for breach of Chapter Six of the Constitution.”

Since the inception of Devolution, it is only Sonko and Waititu whose impeachment have been successful.

Lawyer Peter Wanyama agrees with Kindiki, saying an impeached county chief cannot subsequently run for election to the office of governor or any other public office ever again within Kenya.

“There is no legal lacuna on the issue and it is not capable of a contrary legal interpretation. The public deserves a correct legal opinion and interpretation of the Constitution,” Wanyama said.

Yesterday, the Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu clarified that her office is not mandated to clear independent candidates to contest, but ensure compliance with Section 8 of the Political Parties Act.

“It is IEBC that will bar or clear the candidates to run. Mine is to ensure the independent candidate had resigned from a political party within the stipulated period and the symbols presented are not offensive, advocate for peace and do not resemble an existing one,” Nderitu said.

She added, “What Waititu did is expression of interest to contest.”

Others who have declared interest in the race include Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) secretariat co-chair and former MP Dennis Waweru, businesswoman Agnes Kagure, Adera Betty Adhiambo, Alex Kemboi and Habib Kongo. The five are seeking the Jubilee ticket.

Running mate

“We will consider their applications and settle on the preferred candidate,” Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju said.

He said he did not receive the papers of former Nairobi Town Clerk Philip Kisia.

Yesterday, ODM said it was in talks with Jubilee over the running mate seat.

“ODM is likely not going to field a candidate in Nairobi. We will talk and reach an amicable decision and if they agree on the deputy governor’s slot, ODM will have it,” said ODM chair John Mbadi.

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