Why Nairobi won't get a substantive governor soon

Nairobi Deputy Governor Anne Kananu and NMS Director General Mohamed Badi during the disbursement of cheques to various women groups, youth and PWDs.[Samson Wire,Standard]

Legal hurdles continue to hamper Nairobi Deputy Governor Anne Kananu’s ascension to governorship despite the court upholding her appointment.

This is after ousted city Governor Mike Sonko through his lawyers, filed a notice of appeal of a June 24 High Court ruling that paved the way for Kananu’s scaling to the county’s top seat. A move that legal pundits argue could see Nairobi go without a substantive governor until 2022 elections.

In last week’s ruling, the High Court upheld the nomination, vetting and appointment of Nairobi deputy governor Kananu and upheld Sonko’s impeachment.

The judgment was delivered by Justices Juma Chitembwe, Wilfrida Okwany and Weldon Korir after Sonko challenged Kananu's appointment on grounds that he had revoked her nomination prior to his ouster.

The three-judge bench however ruled that Kananu’s nomination was not withdrawn and dismissed Sonko's letter revoking her nomination.

Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi said Kananu has to wait until the legal conveyer belt is complete and the courts decide the way to go. He also notes that Sonko's appeal will set in a motion a series of litigation suits that threaten to delay the selection of a substantive governor.

Mkangi said should the Court of Appeal uphold the High Court ruling, the issue might end up in the Supreme Court given that it delves not only into Nairobi governance matters but also canvasses on devolution.

“I foresee a situation where if the Appeal Court overturns the High Court ruling, Kananu will definitely want to fight that and will head to the Supreme Court especially now that she’s in office and if the appellate court does not agree with him, Sonko might still want to seek reprieve at the top court,” he said.

He brought to the fore a probability of the county going for a by-election should the court find Kananu’s appointment unlawful.

“If the courts find that she’s in office illegally and reverts to the position that there’s a vacancy it then opens up the path for IEBC to prepare for a by-election within 90 days even as the speaker occupies the seat albeit in an acting capacity,” added Mkangi.

Meanwhile, sources indicate that a section of former gubernatorial aspirants is in behind-the-scenes negotiations with Kananu’s camp to be considered for the deputy governor’s position should she ascend to governor.

“It’s interesting that none of the candidates that were contesting for governor following Sonko’s ouster have appealed the High Court ruling. This is indicative of the things to come,” said the source.

The position of deputy governor fell vacant in 2018 after Polycarp Igathe resigned in a huff.

Sonko then nominated Kananu to deputise him on January 6, 2020 but before the Nairobi County Assembly could vet her, a petitioner - Peter Agoro moved to court and obtained orders barring the exercise.

Kananu would however be vetted and sworn in under six hours in December 2020 following the ouster of Sonko by the city assembly and senate.

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