Tribunal asks Fifa to appoint committee to run Kenyan football

Tuesday March 24 2020
ohaga_pix

Sports Disputes Tribunal chairman John Ohaga addressing the media in Nairobi in the past. PHOTO | FILE |

By DAVID KWALIMWA

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) secretary-general Barry Otieno on Tuesday evening maintained that president Nick Mwendwa will remain in office and discharge his duties as per the body's constitution in spite of the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) decision to cancel the body's county and national elections for the second time in three months.

In a two-and-a-half hour ruling delivered on Tuesday afternoon via video link owing to the government's ban on public gatherings to avoid the risk of coronavirus infection, SDT chairman John Ohaga cancelled the county elections held last Saturday on the premise that the electoral laws (Code) governing the exercise had locked out potential candidates.

Ohaga also cancelled the national polls.

The polls were set for March 27 even though the exercise was in doubt owing to the ban on public gatherings and use of sports facilities by the government owing to the risk of coronavirus infections.

"The purpose of competitive elections is to offer voters a choice between different philosophies, manifestos and visions so that they can decide who their leaders will be for the term as defined in the constitution. When such choice is taken away from the voters, then it cannot be said that the ascendancy into the office of the sole candidate who meets the criteria is legitimate," said Ohaga.

"For this reason, the Tribunal has no hesitation in striking down the provisions of section 4 of the Code as being unreasonable and designed to lock out potential aspirants and is a gross violation of the principle of free and fair elections contemplated by Section 46 (6) of the Act as read with the paragraph of the Second Schedule."

Section 4 of FKF's Electoral Code stipulates that a candidate vying for the FKF presidency shall, among other qualifications, have been active in football matters for three of the last four years and should also be endorsed by at least five of the 78 voters.

He or she shall also have a running mate.

Consequently, Ohaga also ruled that the term of the National Executive Committee (NEC) is now at an end and his office will be proposing to Fifa to appoint a normalisation committee to run the daily affairs of FKF and conduct elections, a decision Mwendwa disagrees with.

"I am not comfortable with the ruling in regard to the normalisation but I respect it. We will communicate this to Fifa and will give you our position in 48 hours," said Mwendwa.

BAN

Fifa had ordered Kenya to conduct elections by March 30 or risk a ban from football activities.

But former FKF president Sam Nyamweya, and his vice-chairman Twaha Mbarak, who appear the biggest beneficiaries in this case, all hailed the ruling.

"It is a landmark ruling which must be amplified the world over. I thank Ohaga for standing firm in his decision making and I wish to also thank my lawyers and my comrades for the hard work. Ohaga has saved Kenyan football," said Nyamweya.

Mbarak added: "We will now have a chance to conduct transparent elections. That is what we have been fighting for."

Ohaga had cancelled FKF polls originally set for last December, arguing that the Electoral Board tasked to conduct the exercise was not properly constituted as per the laws and that there wasn't adequate public participation in the run-up to the exercise.