Civil society groups want Sonko barred from contesting Mombasa governor’s seat

Mombasa Law Courts in this picture taken on July 9, 2020. 


Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Three civil society organisations have sued to have former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko disqualified from contesting the Mombasa governor’s seat in the August 9 polls.

Haki Yetu, Kituo Cha Sheria and Transparency International want the court to declare Mr Sonko, who was impeached in 2020, unfit to hold office.

In their petition at the High Court in Mombasa, the groups argue that Mr Sonko was removed from office for violating the Constitution by, among others, failing to promote public confidence in the integrity in the office of governor.

“Having been found unsuitable to hold the office of the Governor of Nairobi City County, Mr Sonko is equally unsuitable to hold any other state office,” the petition states.

The groups have sued Mr Sonko, the Wiper party and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Two other petitions, one in Mombasa and another in Eldoret, have been filed seeking to have Mr Sonko disqualified from contesting the Mombasa’s governor’s seat.

The petitioners argue that the Constitution provides that the authority assigned to a state officer is that of public trust and must be exercised in a manner that demonstrates respect for the people, brings honour to the nation and dignity to the office, and promotes public confidence in the integrity of the office.

“Violations of these principles do not necessarily have to be criminal in nature,” the groups argue.

They also argue that despite being disqualified by Article 75 (3) of the Constitution from holding state office, Mr Sonko has expressed his intention to contest the Mombasa governor’s seat and has been nominated by Wiper.

The groups also say that by nominating Mr Sonko, Wiper violated the Constitution.

“IEBC is likely to approve and clear Mr Sonko to run for the position of Governor Mombasa since he has already been nominated by Wiper party and his name submitted to IEBC in further perpetration of constitutional violations and a real threat to petitioners’ constitutional rights,” the petition states.

The petitioners reject the view that only a final conviction can bar a contestant from occupying public office. They cite a case where Mr Sonko is charged with corruption and a trial court barred him from accessing his office pending its determination.

In a supporting affidavit, Ms Munira Ali, a programmes officer at Haki Yetu, states that Mr Sonko and Wiper will have converted Mombasa County into a dumping ground for rejected leaders.

Ms Ali argues that it is a mockery of the Constitution and the rule of law and an insult to the people of Mombasa to be presented with a person who was removed from the office of governor as a candidate for the same office in the county.

“Mombasa residents are struggling with issues of respect [for] institutions and a person who does not respect institutions will be a further liability, this will create a major impact on the county of Mombasa and its residents,” says Ms Ali.

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