MOMBASA, Kenya, Feb 5 – The High Court in Mombasa has nullified the election of Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere as the Member of Parliament for Matuga constituency and ordered a by-election.
Immediately after Justice Mohammed Ibrahim’s pronouncements celebrations rent the air at the fully packed courtroom.
Justice Ibrahim ruled that Mr Mwakwere was not validly elected during the 2007 General Election. In his conclusion of a 93-page ruling, the judge noted with concern that Form 16 A was not filed in Kombani ‘A’ and ‘B’ polling stations, where Mr Mwakwere’s challenger Hassan Mohamed Mwanyoha led with 452 votes.
The judge said that had the 452 votes been added to Mr Mwanyoha’s tally, then he could have won the election with 9,090 votes compared to Mr Mwakwere\’s 8,738. Earlier results had shown that Mr Mwanyoha had trailed Mr Mwakwere with 8,638.
Justice Ibrahim said that election rigging clearly showed that Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) deserved to be disbanded, as it was a contributor to the chaos and mayhem that followed the election of 2007.
Mr Mwakwere becomes the third MP to lose his seat in the 10th Parliament which has only sat for two years. In December 2008 Joel Onyancha’s tenure in Bomachoge constituency was nullified by the High Court and he lost the subsequent by-election.
Last December, Trade Assistant Minister Omingo Magara lost his South Mugirango seat after Justice Daniel Musinga ruled that the election was marred by irregularities.
In Mr Mwakwere’s case, a voter in Matuga Ayub Mwakesi had moved to court to petition the election. Mr Mwakwere was represented by Alfred Mabeya while Balala Mohammed represented Mr Mwanyoha.
Justice Ibrahim ordered that the Speaker of National Assembly Kenneth Marende be served with the ruling alongside the Interim Independent Electoral Commission for the latter to proceed to conduct a by-election as required by the law.
Mr Mwanyoha said justice had finally been done after two years of struggle and trial. He said he would start campaigning immediately and asked his supporters not to be intimidated by his challenger.
Mr Mwanyoha who vied the election on an ODM ticket was flanked by the party’s National Organising Secretary Ali Hassan Joho and vowed to mobilise resources to ensure the party got "what belonged to them".
Mr Mwakwere who earlier arrived in his private car did not give any interviews and left immediately in a convoy of 10 vehicles.