Court reprieve for ex-governors seeking parliamentary seats

John Mativo

Justice John Mativo at the High Court in Mombasa.

Photo credit: File

The High Court in Mombasa on Thursday declined to issue interim orders restraining the electoral commission from clearing former and current governors to contest MP and Senate seats.

Instead, Justice John Mativo directed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Council of Governors and the Attorney-General to, within three days, file their responses to a petition seeking to bar county bosses from vying for those positions.

The judge said that although none of the respondents had satisfactorily explained why they had not filed their responses, he found no reason to grant the interim orders.

In their petition, Ms Carolyne Chilango and the Coast Legal Aid and Resource Foundation (CLARF) argue that if the current and former county chiefs are allowed to contest MP seats, that would violate the Public Officer Ethics Act and national values and principles and allow them to cover up their wrongs committed during their reign.

Their lawyer Maurice Mkan had on Thursday sought interim orders, saying that the sued parties had not provided good reasons for not responding to the petition.

They said the respondents’ inaction was meant to delay the case and allow the IEBC to clear them.

The IEBC told the court it needed three days to file a response.

Ms Chilango and CLARF also argue that electing current and former governors as MPs would contravene the Constitution as Parliament provides oversight on county governments and if they are elected, it would be tantamount to asking them to inquire into their own expenditure decisions.

Their election, they argued, would result in conflict of interest.

“It will be tantamount to asking a party to inquire and investigate his economic misdeeds while at the helm of the county,” they argue.

They say the integrity of the National Assembly and the Senate would be eroded.

“The election of former and current governors [as] MPs shall provide an opaque way to transparency and there is no way of holding them accountable for their deeds while in office,” the petition states.

In her affidavit, Ms Chilango says current and previous governors were the heads of the executive in their counties and thus had the authority to incur expenses.

“All persons who have been governors should be allowed to retire upon completion of their terms and should not be allowed to be elected into the National Assembly and Senate …,” she argues.

The case will be heard on June 7.

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