Friday, April 30, 2010

Kenya court sends fifth MP home

Former Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo is carried shoulder-high by supporters outside Nation Centre, Nairobi April 30, 2010 after he successfully petitioned the High Court to nullify the election of Dick Wathika as area MP. Photo/WIILIAM OERI

Former Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo is carried shoulder-high by supporters outside Nation Centre, Nairobi April 30, 2010 after he successfully petitioned the High Court to nullify the election of Dick Wathika as area MP. Photo/WIILIAM OERI 

By SAM KIPLAGAT

Politician Dick Wathika has become the latest Member of Parliament to lose his seat after a court nullified his election as the representative for Makadara constituency.

Delivering judgment on Friday morning, Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal said the electoral process was marred by irregularities.

She said the election was not free and fair and that the returning officer abdicated her responsibility.

Lady Justice Rawal told a packed court that Mr Wathika was not validly elected, but said that she will issue a ruling in the afternoon on whether to stay the judgement before giving the parliamentary Speaker a certificate nullifying the MP's election.

The stay, if given, will give Mr Wathika a 30-day window in which to appeal the case. But the application was immediately dismissed by the Judge saying Mr Wathika should seek the orders at the Appellate Court. The former Nairobi mayor has 30 days within which to stop the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende from officially declaring the seat vacant.

Mr Wathika’s election was challenged by former MP Reuben Ndolo who cited numerous irregularities during the 2007 polls.

Immediately after the ruling, hundreds of Mr Ndolo's supporters took to the streets to celebrate. They spilled into the busy City Hall way chanting pro Ndolo slogans as they snaked their way into City Hall Way, Taifa Road and Mama Ngina Street.

Human Shield

Police in anti-riot gear had a hard time controlling the crowds and were forced to form a human shield between the two groups of supporters, on Wabera street, to avoid confrontation.

Blowing horns and waving placards, Mr Ndolo's supporters made their way to Nation Centre. They carried the former MP shoulder high, dancing and ululating his praises.

Through his lawyer Mr Otiende Amolo, the petitioner had asked the judge to nullify the election alleging officials of the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) colluded to rig the polls by orchestrating the arrest of Mr Ndolo on December 28, 2007.

He said a returning officer, Ms Jerusha Chepsat signed and issued a winner certificate to Mr Wathika before declaring the results. Ms Chepsat issued the certificate on December 28, 2007 and announced the results on the night of December 29-30, 2007.

On his part, Mr Wathika through Mr Kioko Kilukumi maintained that the allegations had not been proved.

Mr Wathika becomes the fifth Parliamentarian to lose his seat in an election petition since the last General Election in 2007.

The same fate befell Joel Onyancha (Bomachoge PNU), Omingo Magara (South Mugirango, ODM), Chirau Mwakwere (Matuga, PNU) and most recently Juja MP George Thuo (PNU).

Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru is on the brink after she lost a recount of votes cast in her constituency by at least 14, 000 votes.

Recount

Bishop Wanjiru amassed 34,871 against her rival and election petitioner Maina Kamanda, who managed 49,306 votes. A total of 204 ballot boxes were recounted.

There are also four election petitions pending in court.

Mr John Waluke is contesting the election of Foreign minister Moses Wetangula as Sirisia MP (PNU) while Wajir South MP Abdirahman Ali (Kanu) is also facing a petition.

In Kirinyaga Central, MP Ngata Kariuki (Ford Asili) is fighting to retain his seat after former MP Daniel Karaba went to court, while Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale (New Ford Kenya) also has a date with destiny.

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