ODM leader Raila Odinga’s lawyers have gone to court seeking to reverse an election law after he failed to meet its deadline.
The party’s lawyer on Wednesday challenged the implementation of the law that requires candidates in the 2017 elections to submit a list of their campaign finance management committees.
The penalty for violating the law is a fine of Sh2 million or a conviction of five years in jail or both.
Incidentally, this requirement was among the amendments made to the Elections Act by the joint select parliamentary committee whose members were drawn from Cord and Jubilee. It was part of the amicable solution to the deadly demonstrations that Cord organised to push for the exit of the nine electoral commissioners.
The law also demands that politicians seeking office next year should open bank accounts and name the people who will manage them.
On Wednesday, Mr Norman Magaya, the Cord secretariat executive director, conceded that Mr Odinga failed to comply with the Election Finance Act.
“Our candidate, Raila Odinga, did not comply because that law was defective. We still do not have candidates. The law only requires candidates to make such submissions,” he said.
One is declared a candidate after being nominated and given a nomination certificate. Before then, one is only an aspirant.
Although failure to comply cannot directly stop Mr Odinga from contesting in the coming elections, it could affect his campaign spending.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is expected to watch the expenditure of every politician to ensure that they all comply with the caps set in law. Under the new election rules, a presidential candidate is expected to spend a maximum of Sh5.2 billion on his election campaigns.
His Wiper Democratic Movement counterpart, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, and the Wiper Party have both complied with the law. But the party on Wednesday said it was solidly in support of the application filed by ODM.
“Our presidential candidate is in compliance and our party is also in compliance. But we must say that we are fully in support of the ODM position that the regulations had not been approved by Parliament and, therefore, cannot be said to be binding,” said the party’s secretary-general, Mr Hassan Omar.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi has also complied with the law. “The Amani leader has met the requirements,” his spokesman, Mr Kibisu Kabatesi, said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is expected to defend his seat through the Jubilee Party, has also complied, as has his party.
Reacting to ODM’s decision to go to court, the electoral commission communication manager, Mr Andrew Limo, said: “We will stick to the law, but we can’t say much as the law will take its own course.”
The commission also said that no one can spend campaign money without opening an authorised bank account and appointing people to run it. The names of the appointees must be submitted to the commission within the stipulated time, in this case, eight months to the election.
Incidentally, this requirement was among the amendments made to the elections law by the joint select parliamentary committee, whose members were from Cord and Jubilee. It was part of the amicable solution to the demonstrations that Cord organised to push for the exit of the nine electoral commissioners.
In the case filed by Mr Anthony Oluoch, for ODM, says that the electoral commission had no powers to publish the regulations before Parliament approved them.
Lady Justice Roselyn Aburili certified the case as urgent and directed ODM to serve the commission with the court papers.
The case will be heard on December 29.