Traders contest vote areas report

Thursday February 16 2012

By PAUL OGEMBA [email protected] AND VALENTINE OBARA [email protected]

Two businessmen have challenged the revised report on electoral boundaries in court.

Mr Mohamed Abdile and Mr Ahmed Jelle Madey say by adopting the contested Ligale Commission Report, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had engaged the public in a futile exercise. (READ: Court declines to stop use of Ligale’s findings)

They submitted that the law mandating the commission to consult the public and publish its report in the Kenya Gazette had been violated.

The businessmen accused the commission of deliberately slowing down lawsuits challenging the demarcation of electoral boundaries and requested that all files on the subject be forwarded to the Chief Justice for urgent determination.

According to the petitioners, a safeguard of the Constitution that permits citizens to challenge unconstitutional actions would be defeated if the cases in the High Court are not heard and concluded.

They submitted that the adoption of the Ligale Report by Parliament as the primary reference material was prejudicial because it denied the electoral commission time to come up with its own boundaries.

They want a court order to quash the report with regard to Wajir East constituency, saying their right to protection under the law and human dignity are threatened if a proposal to hive off parts of it is effected before the case is heard and determined.

They claimed some politicians and their supporters were bragging that they will ensure all cases related to contested issues will not go anywhere by ensuring that they are rendered futile by the time lapse.

The two submitted that there is a scheme by the Ligale Commission Report supporters to ensure that the courts do not have an opportunity to decide on the matters in view of the timeline set out before the new constituencies are published.

Meanwhile, the commission has been given the go-ahead by the High Court to hire deputy secretaries.

The hiring had been put on hold following the court’s decision to grant leave of stay to Mr Reuben Ombima, who was challenging the constitutionality of an advertisement announcing the positions as vacant in December last year.

The commission was barred from proceeding with the recruitment until the application was heard and determined.

Making the ruling at the High Court in Kisumu yesterday, Lady Justice Abida Ali Aroni said the main post that was in contention by the applicant was that of the secretary/chief executive officer.

The electoral commission’s lawyer, Mr Wambua Kilonzo, had said the post of secretary did not exist.
He questioned the basis of the argument that the acting secretary, Mr James Oswago, was holding office under the old constitution.

Mr Oswago was appointed acting commission secretary/chief executive for three months from November 8, 2011.

The hearing is on March 1.