Activist seeks to suspend EALA elections

Activist seeks to suspend EALA elections
Photo: Activist Okiya Omtatah. Photo/File

Activist Okiya Omtatah has moved to court seeking an order to suspend the on-going elections in the Kenyan Parliament for members of the East African Legislative Assembly.

Omtatah wants the court to restrain Parliament from proceeding to conduct elections in the Kenyan Parliament for Members of the East African Legislative Assembly pending the hearing and determination of his suit.

Under a certificate of urgency, Omtatah claims that under EALA rules, candidates may be nominated by political parties or may vie as independents.

However, he claims that the ongoing elections are irregular as the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee allocated five slots to the Jubilee party and four slots to ODM, Wiper Party and Ford-Kenya which is former CORD coalition and thereby not reserving slots for independent candidates.

According to him, the committee’s report recognises that the rules governing the election of independent candidates were inadequate for that purpose. In that regard, he wants the court to quash the nomination process based on the erroneous rules and order new nominations based on constitutionally valid rules to be conducted before June 4, 2017.

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He says the decision to lock out independents from vying and being elected at the election contravenes Article 50 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, which provides for Election of Members of the Assembly. In the report, the committee had observed that there were four independent candidates out of 416 members in Parliament.

Therefore, the entitlement for independent candidates would be 0.086 per cent slots, while that for the Majority and Minority Parties would be five and four slots respectively.

“The Joint Parliamentary Select Committee irregularly locked independent candidates out of the process by allocating all the available nine slots to political parties only,” said Omtatah in court documents.

He argues that the sharing of the nine available slots should not be pegged on the number of independent MPs in the House. Instead, it should be an open opportunity for Kenyans who are not necessarily aligned to any political party to participate in the elections, just like at the General Election.

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He seeks a declaration that by locking independent candidates out of the elections for the EALA, the Senate and the National Assembly violated the Constitution, the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community and the East African Legislative Assembly Elections Rules.

He also seeks an order quashing the decision of the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the Election of Members to EALA to allocate all the nine EALA slots to the said parties Omtatah also wants an order compelling Parliament to amend the East African Legislative Assembly Elections (Election of Members of the Assembly) Rules, 2017 (LN No. 58 of 2017) to make clear and unequivocal provisions on the matter of nomination and election of independent candidates pursuant to Article 50 of the EALA Treaty.

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