Uproar over cancelled Kamukunji poll

May 20, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – Outrage and counter accusations by political parties have dominated debate after the decision of the High Court to block Monday\’s Kamukunji by-election.

ODM deputy Party leader Musalia Mudavadi claimed the ruling had set a dangerous precedent in the country\’s electoral process as it was not made in the public interest.

"You can imagine the danger such a decision is putting Kenya in because we are in a process where you could start blocking elections. You can imagine if you were to have national general elections and someone takes up a position of this nature without looking at the consequences to the country," said the Mr Mudavadi who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and Local Government Minister.

Narc-Kenya Secretary General Danson Mungatana also took issue with the ruling saying the judiciary should not be seen as trying to micro manage electoral processes.

"The timing of the decision is in itself suspect and cannot be understood in any other way other than to be calculated to interfere with our candidate who was known to be in the lead and favour the candidates obviously trailing as of today," said the Narc-K Secretary General.

He further said the party would move to court to seek compensation for all candidates for the time, money and effort spent during the campaign period.

"Look at what has happened to the Ivory Coast… we are saying that courts must keep off electoral process; this is by far the most ridiculous judgment Kenyans have ever received since the of the new constitution," said a visibly angry Mungatana.

Mr Mungatana said the judgment was wrong and unfair to the people of Kamukunji, a statement that was echoed by ODM which said the voters in the Kamukunji had been denied a chance to elect the leader who will steer them to prosperity.

"We are saying elections are like a 400-metre race.  You cannot wait until the runners have gone past the 300 metre point and are headed for the finish line and then you make a decision that the race was a false start," said Mr Mungatana.

He joined ODM MPs Fred Gumo and Elizabeth Ongoro in calling for the speedy approval of the new Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to spearhead the much needed judicial reforms.

The two MPS claim that there was a political scheme behind the ruling and accused their coalition partner PNU Alliance being of behind it. Narc-K on the other hand lay the blame squarely at the door of the two coalition partners saying that they had sensed defeat.

At the same time, ODM and Narc-K flag bearers Ahmed Ibrahim and Brain Weke vowed to continue with their campaigns despite the court ruling.

"It is a ploy by all the other parties to stop a defeat that they were going to get on Monday but I will not be disheartened.  I will go on and I have fought in the courts for the last three years one more week will do nothing.  I was just on a roll and I will continue," said Mr Ibrahim.

"I can read political mischief and it\’s clear that they are trying to slow us down but we also want our people to exercise restraint," added Mr Weke.

Narc-K termed the judgment as unfair to their candidate who they claim was he "front runner as of today."

Mr Mungatana said that the court failed to look at past precedents citing the judgment delivered on November 2006 by the Court of Appeal in the case of Kones v The republic of Kenyan and another ex-parte one of Kimani Wanyoike and four others.

"The court should have addressed itself to a decision of its higher court that has previously on the same issue directed that  mistakes even grievous mistakes will be made in the process of elections or nominations but such mistakes  should  not be used to stop  the electoral or the nomination process," read the ruling in part.

The parties raised issue with the judgment delivered on Friday making it impossible to challenge it before Monday which is the voting date.

"The nature of these proceeding was such that they should have been determined long before official campaign dates.  The said judgment out to have prohibited the aggrieved political party and not all the candidates participating in the exercise," said Mr Mungatana.

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

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