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Tuesday, 16 May 2017 10:40 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Suba South parliamentary contender Caroli Omondi has always been touted by his allies as a top notch lawyer, a narrative the man himself has helped in no small measure by speaking proudly about his accomplishments in the legal field. A former state counsel in the Attorney General's Office, Mr Omondi rose through the government ranks to work in sensitive legal roles in regulatory agencies and even a Pan-African trade insurance firm.
The icing on the lawyer's cake of professional achievements was when he served in 2008 as a legal liaison member of the 'Serena Team' that wrote the National Accord and Reconciliation Act that ended that year's post-election violence and created the grand coalition government led by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Following that arrangement, Mr Omondi became chief of staff in the office of Prime Minister Odinga, where he participated in legal initiatives that have had far-reaching effect on Kenya's politics. It was a position in which tactics, political maneuvering and intrigues were the defining marks of success or failure.
Given his central positioning in the Raila court, one would have expected Mr Omondi's political acumen grew in the job but it apparently didn't. The lawyer yesterday lost a small political/legal challenge on a mere technicality. After losing the ODM nomination for the parliamentary seat to his long time opponent John Mbadi, Mr Omondi resigned to run as an independent candidate but missed the deadline for doing so by just one day, or actually a matter of hours.
The Elections Act requires members of political parties to have resigned from those parties not less than three months before the general elections on August 8. That is why the Electoral Commission required the independent candidates to file their papers by May 8. Mr Omondi, who had had more than a week since ODM issued the certificate to Mr Mbadi to make up his mind whether to run as an independent candidate, resigned from ODM only on May 8.
It appears the aspirant worked with the IEBC deadline in mind rather than the legality of his own resignation from ODM, and Mr Mbadi, apparently advised by a scrupulous lawyer, challenged Mr Omondi's candidature at the High Court, which has now nullified it. Mr Omondi can appeal the decision at the Court of Appeal and argue about there being a lacuna since his thirty days since resignation from ODM would fall on the Election Day.
What is clear from the case, however, is that he could have avoided all trouble by dating his resignation just a day earlier. The lawyer in him has certainly failed him at the unlikeliest of moments.