NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – A case in which a civil society organisation is challenging the suitability of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto to vie in next year’s general election will now be heard on Wednesday.
High Court Judge David Majanja ordered the International Centre for Peace and Conflict (ICPC) to serve the two International Criminal Court suspects with the petition before the hearing date.
He ruled that the ICPC raised weighty constitutional issues which need to be determined urgently.
ICPC lawyer Senteu Eliud wanted the matter certified as urgent because the two intend to vie as State officers in the March 4 polls.
He stated the petition is of great public interest and should be heard on a priority basis given that the two have entered into a coalition to vie as president and deputy president.
“Kenyatta and Ruto have been committed to trial at the International Criminal Court and there are all indications they will run for State office. Therefore the issue of integrity as outlined in Chapter Six of the Constitution needs to be determined,” said Senteu.
ICPC also wants the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission barred from accepting the candidature of any person seeking to be president, governor, senator or MP if such a person is subject to a criminal case whose sentence is at least six months.
“We also want a determination of whether Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto or any other person charged on similar crimes can hold a public office and whether that would be a recipe for anarchy and perpetuate the culture of impunity,” said the lobby group.
Justice Majanja declined a request by lawyer John Khaminwa who wanted the case referred to Justice Isaac Lenaola who is handling another matter filed by activist Okoiti Omtata challenging the question of the Rome Statute in Kenya.
The judge ruled that the matters were not related and therefore will be heard separately.
Kenyatta and Ruto are facing charges of crimes against humanity arising from the 2008 post-election violence which left over 1,300 people dead and over 600,000 displaced from their homes. They are due to stand trial at the ICC from April 2013.