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Court halts Kamukunji by election

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – The High Court has now blocked Monday\’s by-election in Kamukunji constituency.

This follows a case filed by businessman Waweru Mwangi of the National Vision Party who argued that he was unfairly blocked by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) from handing in his nomination papers.

Justice Daniel Musinga ruled that "the nomination process was flawed and the court must discharge its constitutional mandate intended to promote the rule of law."

He added: "The IIEC through its Returning Officer violated the petitioner\’s fundamental rights to be a candidate for Kamukunji by-election.  Failure to uphold the rule of law is a serious offence."

The court ruled that by law, the Returning officer was required to receive the petitioner\’s papers, scrutinise them and if he found them not fit, he would have returned them to the petitioner and that would leave no room for speculation as to the reason why he refused to take his nomination papers.

"Every person has a right to administrative action. And those actions would lead to an election process that is not transparent and easily lead to chaos."

The order will remain in force until the case is heard and determined.

Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, Mr Waweru told the court he was duly issued with a certificate of nomination by his party as required by the IIEC but claims the electoral body refused to allocate time for him to present his papers unlike his rivals.

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The by election was as a result of a successful petition against immediate former MP Simon Mbugua filed by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate Ibrahim Ahmed alias Johnnie.

Mr Mbugua will however not be defending his seat after he was locked out of polls after losing the Party of National Unity (PNU) Alliance nomination to ODM-K\’s Yusuf Hassan.

Mr Hassan and ODM\’s Johnnie, who filed the petition against Mr Mbugua, have emerged as front runners.

Narc-Kenya also hopes to pull a repeat performance of the Makadara by-election when the party\’s candidate Mike Mbuvi \’Sonko\’ floored his seasoned opponents from PNU and ODM.

The flower party is confident of winning the Kamukunji seat through youthful candidate Brian Weke.

Four other candidates Catherine Muthoni Kihara (GNU), James Matagaro (Kenya Social Congress), David Waihiga (Agano) and Daniel Omao (Ford People) are also in contention.

Mr Hassan is a former journalist and UN official and has been using his work experience and education to woo voters. However, opponents accuse him of being an "outsider" with little interest of locals at heart.

Mr Ahmed, a businessman, boasts of being born and bred in Kamukunji and wants voters to make it right as he alleges that his votes were stolen in the 2007 polls. Reports also indicate Mr Mbugua is quietly campaigning for Mr Ahmed.

Ms Muthoni was first elected as a councillor for Bahati in 1992 at the age of 22 and her supporters say she is the best as she understands local issues having been bred there.

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Mr Weke, a former tout turned human rights campaigner also comes from Jerusalem and has urged residents to vote for him, promising development and a fight against land grabbing.

The parties big guns led by ODM party leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga and VP Kalonzo Musyoka and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta for the PNU Alliance have been in the constituency to drum up support for their respective candidates, promising locals goodies if they are elected and pleading with them to vote for them.

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua, who has declared interest for the presidency, has been at the constituency to bolster Mr Weke\’s campaigns.

Major issues the candidates have promised to address if elected include poor roads, land grabbing, insecurity, unemployment, problems facing traders and tenants and poor state of Pumwani Maternity Hospital.

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