Judge overturns Wetangula ban from future elections
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula has been handed a political lifeline after the Supreme Court Tuesday reversed an order that barred him from running for public office.
However, the legislator may not be out of the woods yet, more so if it is established that he bribed voters.
The court’s deputy president, Ms Kalpana Rawal, said it had “quashed the Court of Appeal’s order on Mr Wetang’ula’s disqualification of candidature in elections”.
However, she said the registrar should inform the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the polls commission about any alleged electoral offences for subsequent action against the senator.
The judge said the court had clarified the distinction between the trial of an election dispute on one hand and that of an ordinary criminal on the other.
She said unless Mr Watang’ula was investigated and prosecuted for the alleged offences and found guilty, the court would not bar him from participating in future elections.
The upshot of the judgment was that Mr Wetang’ula’s candidature was right and his victory in a by-election that followed a successful petition by his rival Musikari Kombo proper, unless proven otherwise through a criminal trial.
The court ruled that he is eligible to run for elections in 2017 on principalities in law and submissions made in the case.
Ms Rawal also took a swipe at the vacuum in law “that mixes the principles of electoral law with constitutional requirements of a criminal trial”.
She called on the Attorney-General and the Kenya Law Reform Commission to carry out a professional examination of the legislation and amend it to give a clear distinction between hearings and verdicts of election disputes and hearings of a regular criminal trial.
The Bungoma senator had filed an application challenging a Court of Appeal decision that he was unfit to hold public office.
Judge Francis Gikonyo had ruled that there had been massive malpractices, including double registration, bribery, double voting and vote tallying manipulation.
In his appeal, Mr Wetang’ula cited 57 grounds on which he felt the decision was inappropriate.
He was represented by lawyers James Oduol, H.M. Wasilwa, Johnson Masinde and Amos Makokha. Mr Kombo was represented by Mr Alfred Ndambiri.