Court declines to suspend ongoing Ruto-Raila National Dialogue Committee talks at Bomas

Raila Odinga

President William Ruto (top left) and his Kenya Kwanza talks team and Azimio leader Raila Odinga (top right) and his team.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

The High Court has declined to suspend the ongoing National Dialogue Committee (NDC) receiving views from members on the public on the current status in the country.

Instead, Justice Lawrence Mugambi directed te thhree petioners who are seeking to forestall the talks to serve the Kalonzo Musyoka and Kimani Ichung’wah led NDC with the court papers within seven days.

Justice Mugambi declined to comment on the urgency of the application filed by lawyer Peter Wanyama for Issa Chamao, Patrick Ekirapa and Paul Kirui.

In his ruling, the judge stated: “I have read the Notice of Motion application dated September 28, 2023, the Certificate of Urgency and the supporting affidavit, l hereby direct the petitioners to serve respondents within seven (7) days.”

The judge fixed the matter for mention on October 23, 2023 for further directions.

The petitioners suit has threatened the existence of the NDC citing constitutional lapses.

The three petitioners are challenging its (NDCs) constitutionality claiming it is dominated by the political elite who want to push for constitutional reforms to satisfy their personal interests.

Chamao, Karani and Kirui argue the issues identified by the committee for amendment are politically driven.

On September 1, the committee published an ad in one of the local dailies titled ‘Public Participation and Submission of Memoranda by the public to the NDC on Issues of concern to the people of Kenya.’ The Ad outlined a number of issues for public participation.

Among them are the senate oversight fund, the office of the prime cabinet secretary, the office of the leader of the official opposition, the national government affirmative action fund, implementation of the two thirds gender rule, restricting of the IEBC, governance issues and the national government constituency’s development fund.

From the ad, Kenyans were required to submit their views within 7 days on topical constitutional amendments. But the trio state that the move went against article 10 of the constitution which calls for public participation.

“This is so because the 7 days’ period is not adequate. It cannot allow for meaningful and qualitative engagements,” the petition reads

Through their advocate Peter Wanyama, the petitioners state it is not clear how the 13 issues for deliberations were arrived at.

Among the issues Kenyans are asked to submit their views are on the high cost of living and related issues under Article 43, audit of the 2022 presidential elections, boundaries delimitation, the national government constituencies development fund (CDF),the composition of IEBC, office of the prime secretary, senate oversight fund, the national government affirmative action fund amongst issues identified.

“Are they conclusive? Why pick issues that appear to safeguard the self-interest of the political elite?” the petitioner question.

They argue that the proposal to amend the constitution does not reflect the sovereign will of the people of Kenya.

Its amendment, they say, must be done in a structured, predictable and constitutionally compliant manner. From collecting views from the public over the high cost of living and the composition of the IEBC to serve it suit papers within seven days.

Declining to grant conservatory orders Justice Lawrence Mugambi fixed the petition filed by Chamao, Ekirapa and Kirui for directions on October 23,2023 and required the petitioners tofile responses if need be.

Justice Mugambi did not grant any conservatory orders suspending the operations of the bi-partisan talks.

The petitioners are urging the high court to stop the Clerks of the Senate and the National Assembly from financing the NDC.

The committee requires Sh106m to finance its activities.