Seventy-five lawyers are in the race for Law Society of Kenya positions in elections that will take place next month.
The current LSK council and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which will conduct the elections, are expected to meet this week to verify documentation and ensure that candidates meet the minimum requirements for the positions they aspire to.
Polls to elect new LSK leaders will be conducted on February 25 and, according to outgoing president Eric Mutua, the meeting with IEBC may be slotted for this week.
“They (IEBC) are yet to give us a date. We wrote to them. But I think they are indicating on the matter next week,” he told Sunday Nation on Friday.
“We will know the final list when we meet with the IEBC.”
The race for the chair has attracted three aspirants: Mr Aggrey Mwamu and Mr Isaac Okero, who practice in Kisumu, and Nairobi-based Allen Gichuhi.
The other 72 candidates will be slogging it out for other positions, which include regional representatives.
Each of the presidential hopefuls believe they can turn around the problems that have been plaguing the society and its over 12,000 members.
Mr Mwamu is banking on his legacy as president of the East Africa Law Society from 2012 to 2014 to woo votes.
“In two years, I intend to transform the Law Society of Kenya into one of the most powerful bars in the world, just like I did with the East Africa Law Society,” he said.
Mr Gichuhi is counting on his work in LSK to give him an edge. “I have worked for 15 years for the society in various professional capacities; I have brought about reforms; I have trained over 10,000 lawyers,” he told Sunday Nation Saturday.
Mr Okero believes his desire to make right the mess that has been the Arbitration Centre project will propel his bid forward.
“The only way we can change this opaque and unresponsive style of leadership within LSK is through the elections,” he said Saturday.
An insider in LSK alleged that Mr Okero, the frontrunner of the Okoa LSK faction, was “planted” to split the western Kenya vote that might have gone to Mr Mwamu. This would be to Mr Gichuhi’s advantage, he said.
But Mr Okero dismissed the claims as misguided.
“It is now in the interest of one rival in particular, who has always campaigned by invoking the ethnic and regional card.
Mr Gichuhi downplayed the claim of splitting the western Kenya vote by having two candidates from Kisumu.
“The LSK elections are unlike other ordinary polls because we deal with professionals. Yes, there is that popular misconception, but at the end of the day I think that what is right is to vote for a person with leadership abilities and professional experience,” he said.
Mr Mwamu said: “Of course there are those undercurrents. In our country, you can’t rule out these kinds of things.”
But he warned Jubilee officials to keep off the polls and let lawyers decide on their own.
“It will be very unfortunate if the government gets involved; because this should be left to the professionals to decide who is going to be their leader,” said Mr Mwamu.
The 2017 General Election could also be a factor in choosing the LSK president, as lawyers might want to elect a vocal person who can take the government head-on.
The Cord-versus-Jubilee duel, some analysts believe, might also play out at the LSK elections, particularly on the election of the president and the representative to the Judicial Service Commission.
The person who will clinch the post of LSK representative will have a say in choosing the next Chief Justice after Dr Willy Mutunga’s planned retirement in June.
Those who have expressed interest in the seat are Ms Jane Abuodha, Ms Mercy Deche, Ms Marykaren Kigen-Sorobit, Ms Florence Mwangangi and Ms Jane Njeri Njoki Onyango.