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Boundaries dispute now in court

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 16 – A Nairobi businessman has now moved to the High Court to block the publication of the additional 80 constituencies by the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission.

Businessman John Kimanthi claims that the IIBRC lacks the legal mandate to publish the new constituencies since their task is limited to making recommendations to the National Assembly, which in its wisdom can agree to or make amendments to the proposals.

Mr Kimanthi is also challenging the commission\’s findings claiming that three of its commissioners led by chairman Andrew Ligale have acted in breach of the law since they were contestants for political office or have been actively engaged in the management of political parties.

"Under Cap 7 article 88 it provides that a member of the commission must not have run for a political office in the preceding five years or hold office actively in a political party," Mr Kimanthi\’s lawyer Njenga Mwangi told reporters outside the High Court registry.

"We are contending that the chairman Andrew Ligale and Rose Abuyu have contested parliamentary seats in Vihiga and Kisumu Town East respectively while another commissioner was an Executive Officer of Narc Kenya."

He claims that the IIBRC has flouted the provisions of the new Constitution by failing to carry out extensive consultations with stakeholders who included political parties and other Kenyan voters.

"Under section 89, the Constitution provides that there be a widespread consultations… my client contends that he was not consulted as a voter nor was his consent sought," Mr Mwangi said.

"And we are asking the High Court to stop publication in Kenya Gazette amending the Constitution and creating 80 extra parliamentary seats until this case is heard and determined."

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There has been uproar from a cross section of MPs who claim that there was favouritism in the distribution of the constituencies.

On Monday a section of MPs from Nairobi accused Mr Ligale of favouring areas with ODM support in crafting the additional constituencies.

Dagoretti MP Beth Mugo and Embakasi\’s Ferdinand Waititu wondered why Langata and Westlands constituencies had received more constituencies, despite having lesser population densities.

The MPs demanded to know why the commission subjected Nairobi to a different criterion from the one used for Kisumu and Mombasa cities.

At the same time, Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni called on the IIBRC to explain how it reached consensus on how the new constituency would be created.

The MP said it was confusing to see commissioners reading from different scripts yet the decision was supposed to be done by the entire commission.

"There are some commissioners who have accused their chairman of acting unilaterally and trying to influence the process of creating the 80 extra parliamentary seats.  Why then should we accept something which they themselves are yet to agree upon?"

Mr Kioni said the gazettement of the controversial changes be withheld until all those involved in the process reach consensus and their findings are acceptable by the Kenyan majority.

MPs from Eastern, Coast and Central Provinces have also been up in arms, pointing out that the commission had ignored a political agreement on the formula for delimiting boundaries reached in Naivasha.

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They have further threatened to move to court to block the Commission from releasing its recommendations that should be implemented before the next general election in 2012.

However, those from North Eastern, Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley have expressed support and want their colleagues to wait until after the new constituencies have been gazetted before making their complaints.

During the Naivasha retreat, MPs recommended that Rift Valley be allocated 26 new constituencies, Nyanza (10), Nairobi and Eastern nine each, Central and Western seven each and Coast and North Eastern six each.

Mr Ligale snubbed this recommendation and accused the defunct PSC on Constitutional review of interfering with his commission\’s mandate.

But according to the leaked IIBRC proposals, Rift Valley will get 26 new constituencies, Nairobi, Nyanza and Western nine each, Eastern seven, North Eastern six, Coast and Central provinces four each.

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