NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – Civil servants eyeing elective posts in next year’s General Election must resign by September 4, the High Court ruled on Thursday.
Justice Isaac Lenaola upheld a directive issued by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that the public officers must resign six months before the General Elections, dismissing a case lodged to challenge the rule by two civil society activists.
The ruling came just two days after the Court of Appeal sanctioned IEBC’s declaration of March 4, 2013 elections.
The case by voters Charles Omanga and Patrick Njuguna was triggered by a circular issued on December 22 last year informing the civil servants planning to vie for elective posts to resign by January 14, if the elections were to be held in August this year.
Section 43(5) of the Elections Act, requires that public officers intending to contest elective posts resign at least six months before the polls.
The petitioners took issue with provisions of the same law which, they allege, spares some State Officers from the requirement to resign.
The two petitioners wanted the operation of Sections 43(5) of the Elections Act suspended pending the hearing and determination of the suit. Section 43(6) exempts the President, Prime Minister, Deputy President, MPs, county governors and members of the country governors from among those aspirants who should resign.
They argue that while there may be a rationale to ensure the listed officers were spared so as to serve their full term, it’s punitive and discriminatory for a law to require other officers to resign seven months before the polls.
Late last year, the IEBC issued a notice to aspiring candidates already in public service to resign by January 14 in compliance with the law.
Among top civil servants who have expressed interest or have been touted to vie in the polls include Livestock PS Kenneth Lusaka who is eyeing the Governor’s seat in Bungoma County and Emmanuel Kisombe, the PS for Immigration.
Forestry and Wildlife PS Mohamed Wamwachai has been touted as possible candidate for the Kwale County Governor’s seat.
Also planning to quit his plum job is the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Loans Board Benjamin Cheboi, who is said to be eyeing the Governor’s seat in Baringo County.
Joseph Tiampati, the General Manager of the National Social Security Fund, former Rondo MP Ochillo Ayacko, who is the Executive Chairman of Nuclear Energy Commission and the chairman of the Communications Commission of Kenya, Philip Okundi are also expected to resign and hit the campaign trail.
Former Education PS James Ole Kiyiapi, who has announced his intention to vie for the presidency on a Restore and Build Kenya Party ticket quit office in May to focus on popularising his bid.
Former City Council of Nairobi Town Clerk Philip Kisia and Former Mumias Sugar Company CEO Evans Kidero who are gunning for the Nairobi Governor’s seat, are among those who have adhered to the IEBC directive.
Central Provincial Commissioner Kiplimo Rugut has been linked to the Nandi County Governorship. Former Cabinet Minister Julius Sunkuli, who is currently Kenya’s ambassador in China, has also declared his interest in the Narok Governor’s seat, while his counterpart in Australia, former Assistant minister Stephen Tarus will be going all out for the Governorship of Nandi County.