Sunday, January 23, 2011

Former MP ‘won’t defend the seat’

Former Kirinyaga Central MP John Ngata Kariuki. Photo/FILE

Former Kirinyaga Central MP John Ngata Kariuki. Photo/FILE 

By GEORGE MUNENE gamunene@yahoo.com

Former Kirinyaga Central MP John Ngata Kariuki will not defend his seat in next month’s by-election.

Mr Kariuki, whose election was nullified by the High Court last year, did not present his nomination papers to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).

Last Friday was the deadline for handing in the electoral documents ahead of the February 16 by-election.

The former lawmaker, who is the executive chairman of the Sarova Hotels, is most likely the first MP since independence not to defend his seat after a court verdict.

Since the court’s decision last year, which came after a parliamentary loser, Mr Daniel Karaba, successfully challenged Mr Kariuki’s election, the latter has kept a low profile. (Read: Kenya MP loses seat in poll petition)

During the 2007 election, Mr Karaba arrived at the Kaitheri Youth Polytechnic tallying centre in Kerugoya and found that the vote tallying had been finalised and the winner announced.

He demanded a re-tallying of the votes, which produced different results. Dissatisfied, Mr Karaba in 2008 filed an election petition in court claiming the counting and re-tallying of votes were flawed.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Mohammed Warsame found that there was no adherence to and proper observance of election rules and regulations and was satisfied that the results did not reflect the will of the people.

Back to the ballot box

The judge said he could not allow Mr Kariuki to benefit from a flawed election and nullified it.

Last week, IIEC cleared seven candidates to vie for the seat. (Read: Groups clash as poll aspirants hand in papers)

Apart from Mr Karaba, the Narc-Kenya flag bearer, other aspirants who were given the green light to contest are Mr Joseph Gachoki Gitari, (PNU), Mr Henry Mwaniki (DP), Ms Beth Wambura (KNC), Dr Sammy Kagoiyo (Ford-Kenya), Mr Peter Ngari (SDP) and Mr Duncan Muraguri of PPK.

ODM was locked out of the race after its candidate, businesswoman Hasia Ireri, failed to beat the IIEC deadline for presentation of nomination papers.

Returning officer Teresia Mwai declared Ms Ireri time-barred when she failed to turn up at the commission’s Kerugoya town offices at 5.15pm.

The move denies Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange party an opportunity to reach out to Central Kenya even as he sets his sights on the presidency come 2012.

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