Friday, July 30, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Bishop Wanjiru loses Starehe parlimentary seat

Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru has lost her parliamentary seat after a Kenya court ruled that she was not validly elected during the 2007 general election.

Giving his verdict, Justice Kihara Kariuki said the poll was marred by massive tampering of election material. The judge said he did not know when and where the tampering occurred, adding that with the irregularities Bishop Wanjiru was not validly elected. However, Justice Kihara declined to grant prayers by petitioner Maina Kamanda, who had requested the court to declare him the validly elected Starehe MP. He said that the court has no powers to declare him the area MP since its only jurisdiction was to determine whether an MP was validly elected or not.

The judge said that was the role of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and the Speaker of the National Assembly. Mr Kamanda had prayed to the court to declare him the winner and his name substituted with that of Bishop Wanjiru. If the prayer was allowed, the former MP would have avoided a by-election. He based his prayers on the strength of Section 27(2) of the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act. The section allows the Speaker to make changes should the court so declare. Bishop Wanjiru becomes the seventh MP to lose her seat through an election petition, an indictment of the flaws in the 2007 general election.

The Bishop, who vied for the seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket, was then announced to have defeated Mr Kamanda of the Party of National Unity (PNU) by 895 votes. Mr Kamanda disputed and filed a petition in February 2008. A vote recount was ordered and Mr Kamanda was found to have 49,306 votes against Bishop Wanjiru's 34,871, a difference of 14,435. According to him, he lost the seat after Forms 16A were falsified. But Bishop Wanjiru disputed his lead saying the ballot boxes were interfered with at the Nyayo National Stadium where they were kept after the elections.

Three by-elections have already been held with two MPs losing in the subsequent polls. Mr Omingo Magara of South Mugirango lost the seat to Manson Nyamweya as Joel Onyancha lost to Simon Ogari in Bomachoge.
Mr Chirau Ali Mwakwere, who also lost an election petition, successfully recaptured the Matuga seat in a by-election in July. Several election petitions are still pending in court. They include the petition challenging the election of Dr Boni Khalwale (Ikolomani), Mr Simon Mbugua (Kamukunji), Mr Walter Nyambati (Kitutu Masaba) and Mr Ngata Kariuki of Kirinyaga Central.

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