Court saves Ruto-Muturi deal

DP WIlliam Ruto Speaker Justin Muturi

DP WIlliam Ruto with National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (left) on April 9, 2022.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The High Court has reversed the decision of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal to nullify a coalition agreement between Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza alliance and Speaker Justin Muturi’s Democratic Party (DP).

Ruling on an appeal filed by Mr Muturi and other party officials against the tribunal’s decision that had also declared the coalition deal illegal, Justice Joseph Sergon said the tribunal had erred.

The judge explained that the tribunal did not have the powers to hear and determine the complaint filed by aggrieved party members because it had been filed late and outside the statutory timelines.

The complaint had been lodged by two DP members opposed to the coalition deal. 

The judge substituted the tribunal’s decision with an order striking out the complaint. He also set aside the tribunal’s decision to dismiss an objection that had been raised by Mr Muturi and the party officials against the dispute.

He substituted the latter with an order upholding the objection on the grounds that the petition was filed outside the statutory period of 30 days.

“The tribunal fell into error in overruling or in dismissing the preliminary objection dated May 12, 2022. There was no application made before the tribunal to extend time to file and admit the petition out of time,” said Justice Sergon.

The aggrieved party members, Daniel Munene and Kingori Choto, filed the complaint with the tribunal on April 11, challenging the resolutions of the party’s National Delegates Convention held on February 20 at the Bomas of Kenya.

Among the resolutions under attack by the aggrieved members was the appointment of Mr Muturi as the party leader. They claimed the appointment was unprocedural. 

But Justice Sergon noted that under the Political Parties Disputes Regulations the complaints must be filed within 30 days from the date of the decision complained about.

“It is trite that the complaint was filed outside the 30 days prescribed by the regulations. It cannot be said that the preliminary objection (raised by Mr Muturi and the officials) was a procedural technicality,” said justice Sergon.

He noted that the complaint was filed on April 11 while the action complained about occurred on February 20, this was over 40 days late.

The genesis of the dispute is a move by Mr Muturi to sign a coalition agreement with Kenya Kwanza that is led by DP Ruto.

Mr Muturi signed the coalition deal in the presence of his party’s chairperson Esau Kioni, secretary-general Jacob Haji and patron Joseph Munyao.

But the deal was faulted by some party officials, who said that it went against the party’s National Delegates Conference (NDC) resolutions.

The party had resolved not to get into any coalition agreement until after the August 9 polls.

The aggrieved members argued that the coalition agreement was signed without the authority of the party.