, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 11 – Kethi Kilonzo has been granted a reprieve by High Court Judge Isaac Lenaola who postponed the Makueni Senate seat by-election from July 22 to July 26.
Justice Lenaola made the ruling in order to allow the High Court enough time to hear Kethi and the Wiper Democratic Movement’s petition against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
“The by-election for the Makueni Senate position is postponed from July 22 to July 27 in accordance, Nyamodi, with Article 101 sub-article 4(b) of the Constitution,” Justice Lenaola told IEBC advocate Paul Nyamodi before his co-counsel Kimani Muhoro countered that Friday July 26 would be a preferable date and Justice Lenaola concurred.
“It makes a lot of sense, I think from experience we need to have a day before the last,” Justice Lenaola said in reference to Article 101 sub-article 4(b) of the constitution which states: A by-election shall be held within ninety days of the occurrence of the vacancy.
The Makueni Senate seat fell vacant on April 27 following the death of Mutula Kilonzo and therefore July 26 just falls short of the constitutional July 27 deadline.
On account of the tight timelines, Lenaola did not grant Kethi Kilonzo’s prayer that IEBC suspend preparations for the by-election but he did require the IEBC to commit to having Kethi Kilonzo’s name on the ballot paper should her candidature be reinstated.
The four gazetted candidates have also been allowed to continue their campaigns as the hearing continues with Lenaola arguing that contrary to her petition, Kethi would not be disenfranchised on account of all the press attention the controversy surrounding her candidature has attracted, “The public nature of these proceedings is that in fact there is serious campaigning.”
Lenaola directed that the matter be heard before a three judge bench which should be constituted by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga any time between Thursday and Friday but Lenaola was categorical that he would not be among the three on account of his not being, “comfortable.”
A three judge bench, Lenaola felt, would be best suited to hear the case on account of its unprecedented nature and the public interest it has generated.
“Mention on Monday July 15 at 9am before the three judge bench which shall not include myself,” Lenaola concluded.