, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Controversy looms over the forthcoming Law Society of Kenya (LSK) polls after a law was effected barring all State Counsel from taking part in the vote.
According to Nairobi lawyer Moses Chelanga, who is vying to be a council member of the LSK, the law also prohibits lawyers who do not hold a 2013 practising certificate from voting in the elections slated for February 6, 2014.
Through a letter to the LSK Secretary Apollo Mboya, Chelanga argued that the new passages infringed on lawyers’ right to vote noting that over 400 State Counsel would not be allowed to participate.
“I am proposing that there be a special register for State Counsel and newly admitted advocates in addition to the roll of 2013 practicing certificate holders,” he said.
Chelanga added that the enactments were hypocritical because the LSK has always pushed for the right to vote. He challenged the lawyers’ body to uphold the principles of the Constitution and allow State Counsel to vote.
“As a guardian of voting rights, LSK should start from its house by righting this historical discrimination, electoral malfeasance and injustice visited upon State Counsel in light of the new constitutional dispensation,” he said.
He also asked the LSK to factor in other methods of finding out if State Counsel were genuine advocates without necessarily expecting them to hold the 2013 practicing certificates.
“There are other modes of identification such as the staff identification card. The Attorney General can provide their names if need be, as a special register of voters,” he noted.
He at the same time observed that the provisions were contradictory because the Advocates Act exempted State Counsel from taking out their practising certificates and that it still considered them as LSK members, meaning they had a right to vote.
State Counsel are advocates who work in the office of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Principal Registrar of Titles and any Registrar of Titles.
“By dint of this provision, the said class of advocates have been granted audience in courts of law and other quasi-judicial tribunals without a practicing certificate. This is not only specific to Kenya but is largely shared in the commonwealth jurisdiction,” explained Chelanga.