Senator has a point in bid to postpone election date
Joseph Mutua Ndonga
The other day former Nominated Senator Paul Njoroge said he is planning to file a petition in court seeking to postpone the date of next year’s General Election.
He cited two main grounds. One, if the election will be held on second Tuesday of August, it means this will take place before the end of second term of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.
Article 142 of the Constitution, read together with 136, stipulates that the President shall hold office for two terms of five years each.
Though the provisions were upheld in 2017 General Election, the National Super Alliance moved to the Supreme Court and successfully argued their case seeking the nullification of the presidential elections.
Uhuru’s victory was overturned and the court ordered a repeat of poll, which was conducted two months later.
It, therefore, means the President and his deputy were sworn-in almost three months later.
There is a lacuna in law on how to legally manage this situation. What comes to mind is the election of the MPs and the President had been held separately and hence were sworn-in at different dates.
The two elections carried the same weight. So, how can we sort out the impasse?
The answer lies with MPs re-looking at the proposals contained in the Building Bridges Initiative that sought to fix this problem.
The Constitution Implementation and Oversight Committee and the Justice and Legal Affairs team would be required to spearhead the process of drafting, tabling the proposals in the two Houses and lobbying members to adopt them.
I would also expect them to guide the nation on whether the President is eligible for the retirement package if he fails to complete his term.
The other ground raised by the former senator concerns the composition of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
He cites a commission’s recommendation, in a bid to forestall an election violence, that “No reforms should be undertaken to change the structure, composition and operations of the commission one year to the election”.
Njoroge believes these requirements had been ignored. First, IEBC was being run by three commissioners as opposed to seven.
Though the slots were filled barely a week ago, this was done less than one to the election.
Putting this aside, the commission does not have substantive Chief Executive Officer since the sacking of Ezra Chiloba.
Legislative bodies and other relevant agencies have not acted on this issue. I don’t think they can salvage the situation.
They have failed to comply with the constitutional timelines and hence it is not tenable to hold the election in August.
So Njoroge, who has also cited other grounds, is on the right course. He has a case, which cannot be wished way. — The writer is a Political Analyst and Blogger based in Nairobi