NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 12 – Civil Society groups in the country want the Leadership and Integrity Bill to expressly provide for the disqualification of persons charged before a court from contesting any elective post until they are cleared.
Speaking on behalf of the lobby groups, National Convention Executive Council Director Cyprian Nyamwamu said the civil society movement will be watching to ensure Parliament legislates a law that will give them leaders with high level of ethics and integrity.
“Individuals who have been taken to court and are being tried for national or international crimes…the Bill should be clear those people cannot be allowed to contest for office in the Republic of Kenya,” he said while reading the meeting’s communiqué.
Human rights lawyer Harun Ndubi argued that even the President hasn’t been spared as the Constitution says he can be impeached if he is ‘reasonably suspected of committing a crime.’ He therefore wondered why other politicians would be treated differently.
“Looking at Article 145 of the Constitution, which talks about the impeachment of the President, that if the President, is reasonably suspected committed a crime, it is suspicion not a conviction that is the basis for impeachment of the President,” he said.
International Centre for Policy and Conflict Executive Director Ndungu Wainana on his part explained that the Bill should not be reduced to a debate about whether it’s intended to lock out ICC inductee Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto from vying for the President’s seat in next general elections planned for March next year.
“Does it allow a situation where persons facing prosecutions or under active investigations (who have been summoned) can still run for office only to step aside soon thereafter because of those very investigations? I believe that those under active investigations and who have been summoned are nonetheless ineligible pending conclusion of those investigations,” Ndungu added.
The groups said a public office must espouse certain core values of the country including its reputation, credibility and integrity. They must also be people whose character touches on independence and impartiality and how individuals fit into that scheme.