, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17 – The High Court has now lifted an order barring public debate on whether International Criminal Court (ICC) suspects Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto should vie for the presidency.
Justice Isaac Lenaola lifted the order after all the parties entered consent to allow public discussion over the matter.
The gag order which the same judge had issued two weeks ago caused uproar among Kenyans who condemned it claiming it was against the Constitution.
Justice Lenaola had issued the directive during the mention of a case in which three voters and two civil society organisations want to bar the duo from contesting the presidency following their indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
Lawyer Kibe Mungai who represents the Kenya African National Union (KANU) had asked the court to stop any ongoing discussions on the pair’s eligibility to run for the highest office in the land until the matter is heard and determined.
“In view of the fact that this court is now seized of the matter on whether Uhuru and Ruto are qualified or not to run for the upcoming presidential election, the issue is now sub-judice and all persons and authorities are enjoined not to discuss the matter in public failure to which appropriate sanctions will be taken,” warned the judge.
The judge had indicated that Kenyatta and Ruto were at liberty to review the orders.
The Attorney General, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and KANU together with four other political parties said that they will oppose the suit.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) through lawyer Wambua Kilonzo said it would remain neutral in the matter but will be questioning the court’s jurisdiction to handle contested issues.
According to Kilonzo, the case is more political in nature than a legal matter. Parties were given 14 days to respond to the petition.
The petitioners claim Kenyatta and Ruto were rendered ineligible for public office after the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed charges against them on January 23.
Kenya Youth League and Kenya Youth Parliament’s Patrick Njuguna, Augustino Netto and Charles Omanga argue that charges against the two are serious under Kenyan and international Laws.
Through lawyer Anthony Oluoch they are seeking a declaration that the leaders’ candidature would be a recipe for chaos and can perpetuate the culture of impunity.
They also want an order issued restraining the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission from accepting the nomination of anyone committed to trial for serious criminal charges.