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Court to decide fate of four MPs, three governors

By Stephen Makabila  

Focus  has shifted to the Supreme Court as it prepares to rule on appeals to block by-elections filed by three governors and four MPs.

It is probably the second time political focus is on the highest court since the ruling on the presidential petition filed by the Opposition CORD last year.

In coming days, all eyes will be on the court, as voters in Migori, Meru and Garissa counties, and Shinyalu, Mathare, Othaya and Nyando constituencies await separate rulings.

While political tempos in these constituencies and counties that were anticipating mini-elections may have subsided, the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) is on the losing end, as it had spent time and resources preparing for by-elections in some of the areas.

Individual politicians, who had kicked off campaigns in some constituencies and counties, have also incurred financial losses in the campaigns.

“Court orders have thrown some of the politicians off guard, but we in CORD are focused on Mathare constituency, whose supreme ruling will be on April 29. If the nullification is upheld, we will hit the road immediately,” said former Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo, who is among those lined up to lead CORD campaigns in Mathare. An IEBC official said the commission was suffering in terms of logistics, especially when by-elections are put off on legal technicalities when preparations are already in top gear.

Garissa Governor Nathif Jama became the third governor to lose his election. His predicament follows that of Meru Governor Peter Munya and Migori’s Okoth Obado, all whose cases are awaiting determination at the Supreme Court.

Not free and fair

Court of Appeal judges David Maranga, John Mwera and Philomena Mwilu sitting in Nairobi ruled that Garissa’s poll was not free and fair, adding that the High Court should have ordered for scrutiny of votes. Like his two other colleagues, Nathif has also swiftly moved to the Supreme Court, which may uphold the ruling of the Court of Appeal or dismiss it, offering him a lifeline as Governor of Northern Eastern region’s most developed county.

Mary Wambui, who was to face a by-election on Tuesday in Othaya, also salvaged herself after she appealed at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court extended the life of Wambui in Parliament by suspending the by-election pending determination of an appeal she has filed. The Vice-President of the Supreme Court, Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal, and Justice Mohammed Ibrahim stayed execution of the entire Court of Appeal judgement, which nullified the election of Ms Wambui as Othaya MP during the March 4, 2013 poll.

Munya and Obado had already moved to the Supreme Court to block nullification of their elections by Appealate courts.

In Meru, former Assistant minister Kilemi Mwriria has his troops  ready, waiting for the final verdict from the court, while in Migori, former Energy minister Ochillo Ayacko and Edward Oyugi are among those waiting on the wings just in case there will be repeat polls.

In Nairobi, if the Supreme Court overturns what the Court of Appeal had ruled in the Mathare, then serving MP George Mike Wanjohi, whose fate will be known on April 29, will serve his full term to 2017.

But if the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeal ruling, then it will be a battle royale in Mathare and by extension in Nairobi County on who between rival TNA (Jubilee) and ODM (CORD) is in control of city politics. Cord has already settled for Steve Kariuki, the petitioner, while TNA is yet to make a decision.

Starehe MP Maina Kamanda had earlier told The Standard on Sunday that irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling, Mathare belongs to Jubilee. “If it is ruled on April 29 that there will be no by-election, then we retain the seat, if we go for the by-election, we will still win,” he said.

Fred Outa (Nyando) is also awaiting the Supreme Court ruling as is Silverse Anami Lisamula of Shinyalu. In Shinyalu, Lisamula’s opponent Justus Kizito Mugali has been warming up for a re-match while in Nyando, Outa’s closest rival, Jared Okello, is also on stand-by. 

Anger over suspension of some of the by-elections that had been lined up by the IEBC was demonstrated in Othaya when Wambui’s supporters clashed with those of her rival Peter King’ara.

Four Candidates had already been cleared to contest in the Othaya by-election. Othaya Returning Officer James Mbai had received nomination papers and issued clearance certificates to Emilio Kibui Mwangi of Kenya Farmers Party, Safina Party’s Joshua Mwangi Mugo, King’ara of Democratic Party (DP) and Wambui of The National Alliance (TNA).

Campaigns for the by-election had started on April 3 and were to end today ahead of the mini-poll on Tuesday, but whose fate now remains in the hands of the Supreme Court.

The parliamentary by-election for Bonchari constituency, which was scheduled to be held on June 3 will now be held on June 23.