NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – The Supreme Court has upheld the election of Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho after nullifying a case filed by politician Suleiman Shahbal at the Court of Appeal in Malindi.
The court held that Shahbal filed his petition after the constitutional deadline had lapsed and that neither the High Court nor the Court of Appeal should have considered it.
Shahbal filed his petition at the Mombasa High Court, which threw out his application and validated Joho’s win, forcing him to appeal.
Joho at the same time urged the Court of Appeal to dismiss his competitor’s application on grounds that it had been filed after the constitutional deadline.
But at the time, the Court of Appeal ruled that Shahbal had been guided by the Elections Act and so his application would be heard.
Joho then went to the Supreme Court to seek constitutional interpretation and find whether or not the Court of Appeal should hear the petition.
“And as it is clear that expedition in the disposal of electoral disputes is a fundamental principle under the Constitution, we hold the said provision of the Elections Act to be inconsistent with the terms of the Constitution,” read the 51-page Supreme Court ruling.
Shahbal had filed his electoral petition six days after the constitutional deadline arguing that the Elections Act provided that they be filed within 28 days after the publication of results in the gazette.
The Constitution however holds that petitions, other than that challenging the presidential election, must be filed within 28 days after the declaration of the results.
It is also worth noting that the High Court had found the Elections Act inconsistent with the Constitution but still opted to determine the petition.
“The court however declined to strike down the petition for the reason that the 1st respondent (Shahbal) was not to blame as Section 76 (1) (a) of the Elections Act was lawful until the Court’s declaration of its invalidity,” noted the Supreme Court in its ruling.