National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has given the electoral commission leeway to prepare for and conduct the Matungu Constituency by-election following the death of MP Justus Murunga.
Speaker Muturi issued writs in a special Gazette notice of December 4, 2020, officially declaring the seat vacant.
This means that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has until March 4, 2021 to conduct the by-election as provided for in the Constitution.
“In pursuance of the provisions of the Elections Act, I command you that due notice being given, you do cause an election to be held according to law of a member to serve in the National Assembly for the said constituency,” Speaker Muturi says in the Gazette notice.
According to the Elections Act of 2011, where a vacancy has arisen in the office of an MP, the respective Speaker shall issue a notice in accordance with Article 101 (2) of the Constitution.
The Article stipulates that whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of an elected member of the National Assembly or Senate, the respective Speaker shall, within 21 days after the occurrence of the vacancy, give notice in writing to the electoral commission.
MP Murunga died on November 14 and was to be buried two weeks later but Agnes Wangui Wambiri, who claimed to be his wife, successfully petitioned the court to stop any arrangements until she was fully involved.
An out-of-court settlement reached later saw the remains of the former first time MP interred at his home in Kakamega on December 5.
Speaker Muturi’s notice paves the way for the IEBC to prepare for and announce the date for the mini election that shall be held within 90 days as per the Constitution.
The 90 days begin from the date of issuance of the writs by the Speaker, meaning the mini election must be held not later than December 4.
It is during this period that those seeking to vie for the seat will declare interest and seek permissions including clearance from various government regulatory agencies ahead of party primaries.
A vacancy that occurs three months to the general election shall however, not be filled, according to the Constitution.
The by-election is likely to be a high stakes affair as Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi flex political muscles.
Mr Murunga was an ANC-elected member but during his first term in Parliament, he shifted allegiance to DP Ruto.
Though Jubilee Party is likely to keep off the mini election, Mr Odinga has said his party will field a candidate. ANC is firmly in the race to recapture the seat.
DP Ruto, who belongs to Jubilee, will likely support an independent candidate as he is doing in Msambweni, whose by-election will take place on December 14.