, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – Four CORD legislators have claimed there is an orchestrated scheme to destabilise the Opposition following gazettement of a Supreme Court report which found Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula guilty of committing an electoral offence.
Led by Siaya Senator James Orengo, the MPs said timing was suspect and dismissed the actions of Speaker of the Senate Ekwee Ethuro as inconsequential.
Orengo insisted the offence had been overtaken by events since it was committed in the March 4, 2013 General Election leading to a by-election which was again won by Wetangula.
He says the by-election ‘cured’ the malpractice since his opponent Musikari Kombo had challenged the validity of Wetangula’s election on the grounds that there was voter bribery.
“It is impossible to punish Moses Wetangula on the basis on an election which was carried out on the basis that the previous election the court declared the seat vacant and that there was a subsequent election. If the order had come before an election, then Senator Wetangula would have been barred in a subsequent election which was the by-election,” stated Orengo.
READ: Wetangula in tight spot over poll misconduct
Orengo said IEBC would have a difficult time determining the matter since the Director of Public Prosecutions in his prior investigation had indicated that he had no evidence to charge Wetangula.
They stated that had written to IEBC and the DPP to present their views asserting that the flow of events were evidence of witch-hunt.
“This issue on Wetangula is 10 percent legal and 90 percent political,” said Homabay Senator Moses Kajwang’.
Kajwang’ echoed the sentiments of Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale who has said CORD will move to court to seek an injunction barring the de-registration of Wetangula from the voters’ register.
He further called on IEBC not to succumb to pressure to ‘teach’ Wetangula a lesson.
“We call on IEBC to for once to rise above the usual parochial and pressurised politics of this nation, do the right thing and free Wetangula from the noose over his head,” said Kajwang’.
They called for calm stating that the Senate seat for Bungoma County had not been declared vacant and neither had Wetangula been convicted of the election offense of bribery.
Section 72 (1) gives IEBC the power to disqualify an individual who during a nomination or an election campaign engages in or knowingly aids or abets bribery, violence or intimidation against the opponents of the candidate or any other person.
Orengo insisted Wetangula cannot be hounded out of office because his eligibility to contest in the by-election was not contested by IEBC and he was therefore rightfully elected.
“The proposition that Wetangula cannot participate in the next election or that he is barred for 10 years to contest any election is fantasy and wishful thinking of political detractors and not supported by both the law and the Constitution,” he concluded.
The legislators further called on their supporters to remain calm as the matter would be resolved.
“There is nothing to panic or worry about. The leadership and operation of CORD including its election strategy are unaffected and remain steady and strong,” added Orengo.
Legislators present included Judith Sijeny (nominated) and Michael Onyura (Butula MP).