Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Tuesday, 24 Oct 2017 15:41 EAT
The Supreme Court became the centre of attention this morning as three pro-democracy activists launched a last-minute attempt to stop Thursday's repeat presidential election that the opposition and civil society and civil society leaders have declared as illegitimate.
The court will rule tomorrow on whether the election will proceed or be stopped pending on the basis of illegalities allegedly committed by the electoral commision IEBC in its preparations and growing divisions in the commission over the conduct of the poll.
The court, plus others handling cases related to the election, will sit despite the government earlier declaring Wednesday October 25 as a public holiday. Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiangi made the announcement through a gazette notice dated today.
Three three petitioners, Mr Khalef Khalifa, Mr Samuel Mohochi and Mr Gacheke Gachihi, moved to the Supreme Court today seeking to stop the Thursday poll. They claim the electoral commission is divided and cannot guarantee a fair and credible poll.
Speaking to the Kenya Free Press, Gacheke said that the case was in defence of democracy. He said the Supreme Court alone was standing between the rule of law and tyranny. Raila Odinga, the NASA presidential candidate who pulled out of the race, applied to be enjoined as an interested party.
EBC commissioners, they argue, are serving partisan interests and chairman Wafula Chebukati has publicly admitted that he cannot guarantee credible election. Represented by lawyer Harun Ndubi, they also want the court to interpret the meaning of Raila Odinga’s withdrawal from the election.
To them, Mr Odinga having pulled out of the repeat State House race, the election stands cancelled. They argue that the gazette notice announcing the new poll date stands vacated after Mr Odinga withdrew.
They argue that the commission might not hold the poll as directed by the Supreme Court owing to the lack of preparedness. There is also a risk, they argue, that the election might not be held in a significant number of counties - thereby plunging Kenyans and their lives into jeopardy.
The three were ordered by the judges to serve all parties to the suit by 6pm today. According to the Daily Nation online edition, President Kenyatta’s lawyer Tom Macharia and those representing the IEBC had already been served by early afternoon. IEBC and other parties are expected to respond by tomorrow at 8am tomorrow before the hearing begins at 10am.
Meanwhile, while declaring tomorrow as a Public Holiday, Mr Matiangi through the ministry’s spokesman Mwenda Njoka said the decision was made “to enable Kenyans the opportunity to travel to their respective voting centres so as to participate in the fresh Presidential Election on Thursday 26th October 2017.”
Dr Matiangi invoked powers conferred to the Interior CS in the Public Holidays Act. The voting day was also declared a public holiday last week. The decision was enveloped in suspicious of politics given that the minister had strongly declined to declare August 7 as a public holiday when Kenyans went to the general elections.