No end to Wiper problems:New twist as Mutula Jnr’s rivals threaten court action

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Just a day after he was cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to vie in Friday’s Makueni Senate by-election, Wiper Party’s new candidate Mutula Kilonzo Jnr is facing a legal battle challenging his candidature.

An official of one of the parties in the Jubilee coalition led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto said plans were at an advanced stage to take the battle back to the courts on Monday.

“There is something to that effect. Let’s wait for Monday (tomorrow) and see how matters shape up,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

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Mr Kilonzo Junior’s opponents argue that the three-judge bench that allowed Wiper a chance to name a new candidate erred in law because the deadline for the nomination of candidates had lapsed.

The Cord candidate yesterday expressed confidence that he would benefit from the prevailing goodwill in Makueni to clinch the seat despite the short campaign period.

“Five days is a lifetime in politics. I will do what I can. The goodwill is overwhelming,” he said.

“My sister has been on the campaign trail. This is only a change of candidate and not the overall campaign.”

He revealed that he was not pushed to run for the seat after the persuasion by Cord leaders led by former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Senators Johnstone Muthama (Machakos), James Orengo (Siaya) and Mr David Musila (Kitui).

“It was my family that made the final call. I was not pushed,” he said.

“It is not the right time to comment on the said petition. But the best way is to file an appeal against the High Court decision. I welcome it, though.”

The Sunday Nation has learnt that lawyers acting for some of the respondents in the case that was filed by lawyer Kethi Kilonzo at the High Court challenging the decision to block her are said to be planning to push the case back to the Court of Appeal.

They say it was unprocedural for the Wiper party to be given a second chance to field a candidate with just six days left to the by-election.

“Wiper party just like any other party knew of the requirements needed for its candidate. If the person they had in mind was not honest with them on her electoral papers, that is their concern. They should have known better. The judges’ decision is like allowing a fresh athlete a chance to join in a 1,500m race with only 200 meters to go and then declaring him the winner,” says Mr James Museve, a Jubilee party activist.

The judges’ decision has split legal opinion. Machakos Law Society of Kenya chapter chairman Andrew Makundi says the bench acted according to the law.

“The courts are supreme when it comes to such complex matters,” he said. “That is why, when Justice Isaac Lenaola pushed the by-election date from July 22 to July 26, the decision was respected by all players. This is a democratic process, and the judges put into consideration the right of the citizens to participate and freely choose their leaders.”

Another commentator offered a different opinion saying the three-judge bench decided to bend legal rules for political correctness.

Mr Joseph Mutinda said there is no ambiguity in the Elections Act No 24 of 2011 which specifies how the date for nomination of candidates shall be arrived at.

“The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is given the statutory mandate of setting the date for the nomination of candidates who are contesting in an election as required by Section 16(1) of the Elections Act,” he says.-nation.co.ke

 

 

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