INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANTS WIN BIG.

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Independent presidential candidate Solomon Gichira following the ruling before Justice George Odunga at Milimani law courts on Friday May 2, 5, 2017/PHOTO BY SAM.

BY SAM ALFAN.

The HIGH Court has nullified restrictions to independent presidential candidates to enlist at least 48,000 supporters countrywide who have no political party affiliation.

The court outlawed the requirement by the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that independent presidential aspirants submit signatures of their 2,000 nominees from 24 Counties through electronic format.

Justice George Odunga ruled that Section 29 of the Elections Act-which imposed the sanctions exclusively on presidential candidates-contravened Article 27 of the Constitution that enshrines freedom from discrimination.

Interestingly, the regulations do not apply to prospective candidates for Governor, Senator, Member of Parliament, Women Representative and Member of County Assembly (MCA).

“I declare that the requirement issued by IEBC on May 17 that presidential aspirants do submit their nomination signatures by way of Microsoft Excel is unlawful and unconstitutional,” Justice Odunga said.

“The IEBC went overboard and purported to unlawfully and unjustifiably restrict or limit the rights of such candidates to exercise their political rights under the Constitution. I find that the requirement does not meet the fairness and reasonability test as provided for under Article 24 of the Constitution,” the Judge observed.

The Judge said the requirement that presidential candidates could only be nominated by members of their political party “contravenes Articles 27 (2) and (4) and Article 137 (1) (d) of the Constitution and is, therefore, null and void.”

Justice Odunga allowed the petition lodged by independent presidential aspirant Solomon Gichira, who had protested that he was likely to be locked out of the race based on unlawful and contradictory regulations passed by Parliament. Lawyer Paul Nyamodi had argued that the IEBC was merely following the law and did not give preferential treatment to any of the prospective presidential contender.

“I am, however, unable to issue a blanket order directing IEBC to acknowledge receipt and accept the submitted signatures of the persons who have nominated Gichira for nomination as presidential candidate in the August 8 General Election. IEBC is, however, barred from rejecting the lists based on the provisions of Section 29 of the Elections Act or its requirement issued on May 17 that presidential aspirants do submit nomination signatures in Microsoft Excel,” Justice Odunga said.

Mr Solomon Gichira said that because independent candidates do not belong to any political party, that requirement of 2000 people endorsing a presidency should not apply to them.

However IEBC holds that all political contenders must strictly follow all regulations for elective office.

Through its lawyer Paul Nyamodi, IEBC said the law allows prospective candidates to seek elective office either individually or through political parties and there is no discrimination or preferential treatment accorded to any of them by the Independent Electoral and Communications Commission (IEBC).

He was presenting grounds of opposition to the petition lodged by one of the presidential aspirants, Solomon Gichira.

Gichira said voting during the August 8 General Election will be by secret ballot and it was futile for the IEBC to demand a list of signatories of supporters in electronic format when prospective candidates had already secured names of their nominees manually.

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