NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – A legal process to lock out Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto from vying for the presidency has been initiated.
Three voters and two lobby groups have moved to the High Court barely 48 hours after the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II indicted the two politicians alongside Civil Service chief Francis Muthaura and journalist Joshua arap Sang for charges of crimes against humanity.
Patrick Njuguna, Augustino Netto, Charles Omanga together with Kenya Youth Parliament and Kenya Youth League argue that the Constitution has placed specific requirements or standards for public office holders, among them high a level of integrity.
“Allowing Ruto and Uhuru to run for public office would be a recipe for chaos and amounts to perpetuating a culture of impunity,” they say in their petition.
The four Kenyans have been cited by the ICC as bearing the greatest responsibility for the 2008 post election violence in which more than 1,300 people were killed and over 500,000 others displaced.
The applicants are asking the court to restrain the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission from accepting now or in future the nomination or election of any candidate accused of committing serious offences under international or Kenyan law until they are acquitted.
The three voters say that even though there is no provision under the Rome Statute to specifically bar the two from vying for any elective office, they believe they should be locked out as allowing them would go against the Kenyan Constitution.
It is their argument that every individual seeking public office or aspiring to be a president in Kenya must pass the integrity test as set out in the Constitution.
“The guiding principles of leadership and integrity include (a) election/selection to office on the basis of personal integrity, competence and suitability (b) objectivity and impartiality in decision making and in ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism favouritism other improper motives and corrupt practices.”
In the petition, the applicants want the High Court’s Constitutional Division to interpret the law.
The three want the court to determine whether the decision by Kenyatta and Ruto to run for the presidency despite confirmation of charges against them at the ICC would be a threat to the Constitution.
Secondly, they want the court to determine whether the presumption of innocence in favour of the two persons committed to trial overrides the overwhelming public interest.
We urge the court to declare that “presumption of innocence of the two does not outride the public interest.”
The case will be heard on Thursday morning.