The Australian government has opened an inquiry into the citizenship status of a Kenyan-born lawyer, Lucy Gichuhi, who won a seat in the federal parliament of Australia to represent South Australia in the senate to determine whether she is eligible to serve in parliament.
According to the country’s laws, dual citizens are barred from serving in the Australian Parliament.
Kenyan High Commissioner in Australian Isaiah Kabira told ABC News that Ms Gichuhi lost her Kenyan citizenship upon obtaining Australian citizenship.
“Before we promulgated our new constitution in 2010, anyone who applied for citizenship in another country automatically lost his or her Kenyan citizenship,” he said.
Her family in Nyeri has reported that Australian authorities have approached them while tracing her roots.
Her father told Citizen Digital that the Australian officers requested a copy of his Identity Card and that of her grandfather.
Ms Gichuhi said her party, Family First, conducted due diligence before approving her candidature.
The mother of three was born in Hiriga Village of Mathira, Nyeri County.
She attended Mugoiri Girls Secondary School before proceeding to the University of Nairobi where she graduated with Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce specialising in accounting.
She worked with a number of audit firms in Nairobi before relocating to Australia in 1999 with her family on a permanent residence application.
The first born in a family of ten, Lucy was described by her family and friends in Nyeri as an intelligent woman who was passionate about education and development matters.
Her father, Justus Munyiri, who is a former schoolteacher, termed his daughter as loving and caring, adding that she is very protective of her siblings, a characteristic that has earned her high regard in the family.
The 55-year-old Ms Lucy Gichuhi won the Family First Party seat in the Australian parliament following a special vote recount of April 2016 poll ordered by the High Court, becoming the first African-Australian senator.
Her predecessor – Bob Day – was found ineligible to vie in the 2016 elections, which he won, and consequently, his victory was nullified.
Ms Gichuhi was the Family First second candidate and has therefore been declared the bonafide winner of the seat.
(Story was written by Moses Ngugi and Emilio Muriithi)