NAIROBI, November 24 – The High Court has extended temporary orders blocking the planned dissolution of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) until further notice.,
Justice Joseph Nyamu extended the orders and directed parties in the case to seek directions before Chief Justice (CJ) Evan Gicheru, who is expected to give a hearing date and a bench of judges to hear the case this Thursday.
Justice Nyamu also directed the Attorney General (AG) to respond to the petition so as to ensure the matter is expedited.
“It is an order by consent that parties have agreed to have the petition heard before the CJ so as to ensure earliest finality as possible. Conservatory orders are hereby extended until further orders are made and parties are at liberty to move the court any time on the petition,” Justice Nyamu ruled.
The 14-day order issued against the commission’s disbandment two weeks ago was due to end on Tuesday.
The extension came barely days after ECK officials protested to the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly through a letter from their lawyer Kibe Mungai in which he questioned the decision of Parliament do discuss the initial court ruling that blocked the commission’s intended dissolution.
A section of parliamentarians angered by the ruling strongly castigated the court for ‘usurping’ Parliament’s powers and instead called for the abolition of the constitutional division of the High Court which had issued the controversial order.
The MPs led by Kisumu Town West legislator Olago Aluoch argued that Parliament was protected by the National Assemblies Powers and Privileges Act which prohibited issuance of injunctions against the legislative arm government.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara, adding to the complaint, described the ruling as an act of arrogance and abuse of power by the judiciary and accused the court of issuing orders in vain.
However the commissioners in their protest letter slammed Parliament for censuring the judge saying the debate was based on gross misunderstanding of the court order.
The ECK officials had moved to court two weeks ago to block the disbandment of the commission following a damning report on the flawed management of last year’s polls. There have been proposals to set up an interim body in its place.
The commission’s chair, Samuel Kivuitu and 21 of his colleagues filed the case claiming there was a move to fire them through a proposed Bill in Parliament.
They claimed that the move would be illegal because Parliament did not have unlimited powers to amend the constitution to make lawful what was prohibited by the same laws.
They wanted the court to bar the government from removing them from office or disbanding the commission pending the hearing and determination of the case. The case was pegged on recommendations by a ministerial committee which proposed the disbandment of ECK through a Constitutional Amendment Bill.