Friday, August 23, 2013

Court nullifies Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga's election, orders fresh poll

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga (left) is sworn in by Justice Aggrey Muchelule at Siaya Stadium March 27, 2013. The High Court in Kisumu has nullified his election and ordered a fresh poll August 23, 2013. JACOB OWITI

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga (left) is sworn in by Justice Aggrey Muchelule at Siaya Stadium March 27, 2013. The High Court in Kisumu has nullified his election and ordered a fresh poll August 23, 2013. JACOB OWITI  

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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The election of Cornel Rasanga as Siaya Governor has been nullified.

Justice Aggrey Muchelule set aside Mr Rasanga’s election following a petition filed on April 8 by William Oduol, who vied on a National Alliance Party of Kenya ticket during the March 4 General Election.

He directed that a fresh election be conducted.

Justice Muchelule’s main grounds of granting Mr Oduol’s petition were election offences committed against the petitioner during the campaign period and the results of a recount he ordered in July.

The judge confirmed at least four offences that the petitioner said the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leaders committed against him in the run-up to the polls.

INVADE RALLY

One of those was an incident where ODM leaders among them Siaya Senator James Orengo invaded Mr Oduol's rally at Luthehe market and addressed the crowd.

The judge disregarded assertions by the ODM leaders that they are the ones who had booked the venue first and confirmed the commitment of an election offence.

He also found the ODM politicians guilty of distributing posters that had the photo of William Oduol superimposed to that of Jubilee leader Uhuru Kenyatta.

Another offence that the judge confirmed was a smear campaign headed by Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo. He confirmed the petitioner’s allegations that Mr Midiwo on various occasions told gatherings that Mr Oduol was a murderer who had shot his wife.

Justice Muchelule did not, however, place responsibility on former Prime Minister Raila Odinga over an allegation that he had called Mr Oduol a “wild cat that should be thrown away” during a rally and that he unfavourably endorsed Mr Rasanga. He observed that, as the ODM leader, Mr Odinga had a right to advocate for a six-piece voting pattern within his party.

In the end, the judge observed that Mr Oduol’s campaign was not free and fair and that it compromised the integrity of the election.

Another aspect that added weight to the judge’s decision was the results of a recount that started on July 3. He ordered that votes cast in Gem, Bondo and Rarieda constituencies be recounted.

Results revealed massive discrepancies between the court-ordered tally and the official results. It narrowed the 9,001-vote margin that separated the two to 897.

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