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Sh40m loss as Kamukunji poll is put off

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) has formally called off the Kamukunji by-election following an order by the High Court Blocking the poll.

Speaking at the IIEC headquarters on Saturday, Chairman Isaack Hassan said that although the move set a bad precedent in election dispute resolution, they would abide by it in line with the new constitution.

He explained that the commission had consulted with the various candidates and told them categorically that there would be no election.

"It is a job of political parties and candidates to contest elections and it is the job of the electoral commission to conduct elections. We are telling you that there will be no elections. Political parties are not going to conduct elections," he stated.

"We have told them as much. We called them as candidates as a matter of courtesy and as people who are our stakeholders who need to know what has happened, what is the way forward and how we are going to deal with this issue."

He called on all party leaders to stop their campaigns for the Kamukunji by-election since it would amount to contempt of court.

"The party chiefs need to also inform their supporters accordingly. We understand the hardships the parties are going through and we apologise profusely to all the candidates, the parties and to the voters in Kamukunji because it was unexpected," he said.

He pointed out that the commission would now embark on setting up an appeal against the judgment through lawyer Pheroze Nowrojee before announcing a new campaign date for the polls.

"If the appeal is heard, this candidate will still not be qualified to contest. That is our position," he stressed. 

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"The only thing that the returning officer failed to do was to write on the form that you are disqualified because you are not a member of the National Vision party and you have no certificate but he explained it to him verbally."

According to Mr Hassan, the IIEC has incurred a loss of about Sh40 million in the preparations for the Kamukunji by-election.

He said this would put a strain on the commission\’s resources which are scanty and as such the IIEC will have to look for more money to conduct the polls again. 

"This is being done out of a dispute arising out of nominations. A dispute out of nominations should be handled by the electoral body," he stated.

"If the petitioner had raised the issue with us, we would have still dealt with it."                     

He pointed out that the move by the petitioner to move to the High court was not done in good faith and as a result, all the candidates and Kamukunji residents as a whole will be affected.

"The way this petition has been conducted raises a lot of serious concern about the administration of justice in this country. It is very disheartening to note that a person who was not even qualified to contest has been allowed by the court to stop a by-election," he said.

"He chose this route which I say is mischievous because the way it was done showed that there was no intention to be fair to the commission but there was every indication and intention to stop the by-election by any cost."

Mr Hassan stated that the order raised grave concerns to all the political parties, candidates, registered voters of Kamukunji constituency and Kenyans in general for the ruling that came only three days to the planned poll.

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He further complained of an inordinate delay that served to frustrate the commission\’s effort to conduct the by-election, wondering why the applicant for the case had only filed the case on 11th May, yet he had ample time since the 27th of April.

He also observed that the court took note of the fact that the applicant had failed to meet the required qualifications for nomination.

In expressing his disappointment, the IIEC chairman said that the commission had extensively consulted with its lawyers on the matter and although they had not been formally served, they were aware of the court order.

"One of the commission\’s values is respect for the rule of law and will therefore adopt constitutional means of challenging the court decision. The commission will therefore comply with the court order despite its reservations in the reasoning of the court."

Mr Paul Waweru Mwangi of the National Vision Party (NVP) had moved to court to block the exercise, citing unfair dismissal of his application to vie for the seat by Kamukunji\’s returning officer Mr Masindet Joseph Leboo.

The IIEC chairman however termed the Justice Daniel Musinga ruling as being in bad taste considering the effort that had been put into the whole exercise.

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