NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – Debate surrounding the fate of the next general elections has taken a new twist after civil society organisations – under the G10 banner – moved to the Court of Appeal seeking to quash the High Court ruling that gave the President and Prime Minister leeway to determine the polls date.
The group, which filed its application on Wednesday, argued that the High Court ruling was erroneous as it gave the two principals power to call the next elections, which goes against the spirit of the Constitution.
Center for Rights Education and Awareness chairperson, Ann Njogu, said that Prime Minister Raila Odinga should not be in a position to determine the date of the next elections as he is also in the race for the country’s top seat.
“Kenyans never wanted to give the Executive a secret weapon with which to hold them at ransom; that’s why we did away with the old Constitution. So the High Court giving the two principals that weapon is amending the Constitution through the back door,” she argued.
The group’s lawyer Stephen Mwenesi added that the High Court also slipped in its calculation of the date for the next possible election. They insist that elections must be held by October 14, this year, at the latest.
Mwenesi argued that the Constitution lacked provisions synchronising the due date of the terms of the current Parliament as well as that of the principals, which created a vacuum.
“The current Parliament cannot complete its term because if it does that, we have a danger with the President who can only continue as MP but not as President. So there’s a danger of breaching the Constitution,” he argued.
The civil societies said that there was need for Kenyans to get a definite answer on the election date in order to resolve any rising uncertainties and help prepare for the next elections.
Njogu said that proper planning would avert a repeat of the deadly 2008 post election violence that left thousands dead and many more homeless.
“We want to have certainty so that we can go into the next general election with confidence knowing that we have a managed election process to avoid the crisis that we had,” she said.
The applicants also accused the High Court of failing to give effect to the meaning of the ‘fifth year’ as laid out in the Constitution saying that it relied on the definition laid out in the repealed Constitution.
“The High Court misconstrued Section 9 (2) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and failed to determine that the new law contemplates a general election not later than 2012,” argued Mwenesi.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has already voiced his support for a March 2013 election saying it will give Kenya more time to effectively prepare for the polls.
Kilonzo has however faulted the High Court’s ruling saying the principals should not be tasked with determining the next polls date.
He also opines that pushing the timelines of the grand coalition government to correspond with the term of the current Parliament presents a better alternative for Kenyans as it will ensure that there is no leadership vacuum.
The civil societies however feel that this will constitute a flawed amendment of the Constitution.