, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – The High Court has barred members of the public and authorities from discussing whether Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North Member of Parliament William Ruto are eligible to vie for the presidency.
Justice Isaac Lenaola issued the directive during the mention of a case in which three voters and two civil society organisations want to bar the duo from contesting the presidency following their indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
Lawyer Kibe Mungai who represents the Kenya African National Union (KANU) asked the court to stop any ongoing discussions on the pair’s eligibility to run for the highest office in the land until the matter is heard and determined.
“In view of the fact that this court is now seized of the matter on whether Uhuru and Ruto are qualified or not to run for the upcoming presidential election, the issue is now sub-judice and all persons and authorities are enjoined not to discuss the matter in public failure to which appropriate sanctions will be taken,” warned the judge.
Since Kenyatta and Ruto who have now been enjoined in the matter were not legally represented in Thursday’s proceedings, the judge said they were at liberty to review the orders on February 17 when the case will be mentioned again for further directions.
The Attorney General, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and KANU together with four other political parties have indicated that they will oppose the suit.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) through lawyer Wambua Kilonzo said it would remain neutral in the matter but will be questioning the court’s jurisdiction to handle contested issues.
According to Kilonzo, the case is more political in nature than a legal matter. Parties were given 14 days to respond to the petition.
The petitioners claim Kenyatta and Ruto were rendered ineligible for public office after the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed charges against them on January 23.
Kenya Youth League and Kenya Youth Parliament’s Patrick Njuguna, Augustino Netto and Charles Omanga argue that charges against the two are serious under Kenyan and international Laws.
Through lawyer Anthony Oluoch they are seeking a declaration that the leaders’ candidature would be a recipe for chaos and can perpetuate the culture of impunity.
They also want an order issued restraining the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission from accepting the nomination of anyone committed to trial for serious criminal charges.