Fresh hurdle as Raila's Azimio legality challenged in court

Raila Odinga

Azimio Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga delivering his speech at KICC in Nairobi on May 16, 2022.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party, one of the two major political formations in the lead-up to the August 9 elections, faces a fresh hurdle after two petitioners challenged its legality at the High Court in Mombasa.

Mr Kelvin Omondi and Ms Fatuma Saidi argue that the deed of agreement establishing Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party is null and void.

They want the coalition led by Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga to be compelled to make public the coalition’s deed of agreement.

They further claim that the agreement that established the coalition was entered in breach of the Political Parties Act (PPA) and the basic requirements for coalitions as provided for in the Act.

“The deed agreement is a nullity and void for violation of any law and norm under the Political Parties Act, nothing comes out of it,” the two contend in their petition.

They have sued the Registrar of Political Parties, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party.

The petitioners claim Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party is an entity unknown in law and unconstitutional, as its registration did not meet the statutory and constitutional threshold for registration of a political party.

They asked the court to issue a declaration quashing the registration of the deed of agreement dated March 12, 2022 as well as any gazette notice and nominations made by the party.

Mr Omondi and Ms Saidi said should aspirants be cleared to participate in the August 9 elections or be elected on the coalition party’s tickets, the exercise would not only be a nullity but it may also occasion a constitutional crisis and undermine democracy and the rule of law.

“The deed of agreement is inconsistent with various provisions of the Constitution as it seeks to curtail the freedom of association and political rights as enshrined under the Constitution, thus infringing on the right of citizens to make political choices,” part of the petition states.

Entered in an opaque manner

The petitioners argue that the coalition agreement was entered in an opaque manner and as registered voters, they are entitled to any information pertaining to it in order to make informed decisions on their preferred candidates or coalitions in the coming polls.

The petitioners further argue that members of Azimio’s constituent parties and the public will likely participate in, support, associate with and fund the “unconstitutionally registered” party, thus violating the Constitution.

They accuse the Registrar of Political Parties of approving the registration of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition and allowing the party to deposit a deed agreement that is is not compliant with the law.

They contend that the IEBC is likely to spend and waste public funds in preparations, clearance of various candidates affiliated to the party and printing of ballot papers and other materials which, in their view, would be contrary to proper use of public funds.

“An election is a process and every step matters, including the formation and

Justice John Mativo directed that the petitions be amended to enjoin all parties to the coalition agreement as interested parties within three days.

The judge said he had noted from the documents filed that the coalition agreement was signed by many parties who had not been enjoined in the petition.

“The parties are necessary to these proceedings because they may individually or collectively be affected by the outcome of the petition,” said Justice Mativo.

The judge further added that no court would knowingly issue an order that is likely to affect a party that is not before it.

The case will be mentioned for directions on May 25.

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