Opinion divided over poll date ruling

January 13, 2012 1:18 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – Kenyans hold divergent opinions following Friday’s High Court ruling that set the next general elections for 2013 unless the coalition government collapses to warrant an earlier poll.

The constitutional division of the court ruled that the general elections will be held within 60 days after the expiry of the term of the 10th Parliament on January 14 2013 or, during a similar time-frame if the coalition government is dissolved.

The chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution [CIC] Charles Nyachae who was rooting for August elections welcomed the ruling, saying it was a product of the correct process of interpretation.

He said that now that the poll dates were clear, the focus should be on preparations and the constitutional implementation processes.

“The court has pronounced itself on the election date and that is the body mandated to do so. In practical terms it should serve to bring clarity on the matter,” said the CIC chairman adding the commission will not appeal the ruling.

Deputy Solicitor General Muthoni Kimani who acted in the case on behalf of the office of the Attorney General also welcomed the ruling terming it as meeting international standards.

Kimani said: “It’s a clearly reasoned out judgment, it is for the local person and you do not need any lawyer to explain it to you. It should be a celebration for Kenyans.”

Lawyer Kibe Mungai however disagreed with the interpretation that the elections could be held in 2012 if the coalition is dissolved.

According to Mungai the coalition may be dissolved by the two principals but the President still does not have power to dissolve Parliament.

“The route of conducting elections following the dissolution of the coalition is purely academic, there is no power to dissolve Parliament because section 58 of the old constitution was preserved and that the term of the current Parliament expires in January 2013,” he said.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua however said she totally disagreed with the court’s ruling.

In a Twitter posting, she said the term of office of the MPs must include the election period and that was the interpretation the world over.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi also reacted to the ruling on his Twitter account wondering what will happen after President Mwai Kibaki’s term expires on December 2012.

The Constitution however says a person who assumes the Office of President under clause (2) (a), of the Sixth Schedule or following an election required by clause (2) (b), shall, unless otherwise removed from office under this Constitution, hold office until a newly elected President is sworn in following the next regularly scheduled election under Article 136 (2) (a).

Mutahi further indicated that if there was a run-off the country will have not president until April 2013 as section 142(1) of new Constitution is suspended by 2(1) C of the 6th Schedule.

Section 2(1) C of the Sixth Schedule suspends articles 129-155 of Chapter Nine except those relating to the election of the President.

Tourism Minister Najib Balala also applauded the court ruling saying it was a good judgment to give ample time for the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission [IEBC] to conduct free and fair polls.

“The commission needs ample time to re-organise itself to conduct free and fair election,” Balala said.

The minister who spoke to journalists at the Coast Girls Primary School after he laid a foundation stone for the construction of two classrooms challenged the electoral and boundaries commission to ensure all systems were in place for free and fair election to take place.

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