Kenya: Muturi Declares Kibra MP Seat Vacant After Ken Okoth’s Death


Monica Okoth (left), the widow of the late Kibera MP Kenneth Okoth, during the legislator’s Memorial Service at Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi on July 31 2019.

The electoral commission now has until mid-November to conduct the Kibra constituency by-election, following lawmaker Ken Okoth’s death on July 26.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi issued writs in a special Gazette notice of August 14, officially declaring the seat vacant.

Mr Muturi’s notice to Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), paves way for the commission to prepare and announce the date for the mini-election that shall be held within 90 days as per the Constitution.

The count begins from the date of issuance of the writs by the Speaker, meaning the mini-poll must be held no later than November 14.

THE LAW

Article 101 (4) of the Constitution stipulates that whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of an elected member of the National Assembly or Senate, the respective Speaker shall, within 21 days after the occurrence of the vacancy, give notice in writing of the vacancy to the electoral commission.

The IEBC shall then be required to hold a by-election within 90 days of the notice.

A vacancy that occurs three months to the general election shall however, not be filled, according to the Constitution.

HOPEFULS

Mr Okoth was re-elected for a second term during the August 8, 2017 general election.

He died of cancer and his body was cremated at the Kariokor crematorium on August 3 in a ceremony attended by family members and friends.

Those aspiring to succeed him have time to declare interest and seek requirements including clearance from various government agencies before party primaries.

People including former members of Parliament and politicians who vied in past elections are among those positioning themselves for the contest.

Some of those expected to officially declare their interest include Mr Imran Okoth (brother to the late MP), Mr Eliud Owalo, former Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra and former nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro.

Others are Orange Democratic Movement Secretary-General, Edwin Sifuna, Sigar James Agumba and ODM Youth leader Benson Musungu.

With the exception of Mr Owalo and Ms Ongoro, who is former Ruaraka MP, the rest will be seeking the ODM nomination ticket.

Mr Mwalo is a renowned management consultant who served as head of Raila Odinga’s Presidential Campaign Secretariat and his chief campaign manager in 2013,

PARTY MOVES

Mr Owalo resigned from ODM in a huff on August 13 to strategise for the by-election and although he did not announce his next political vehicle, he is likely to vie as an independent candidate due to strict election regulations.

The Elections Act states that candidates seeking to run independently in a general or by-election must not have been associated or aligned with any political party three months to the election.

Ms Ongoro defected from ODM to Amani National Congress ahead of the 2017 election after she failed to clinch the party’s nomination ticket for the Nairobi Woman Representative position.

With the handshake on March 9, 2018 between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Mr Odinga, it is expected that the battle will be domiciled in the latter party as Mr Okoth was a member.

President Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is expected to keep off the vote, was was the case in the Embakasi South and Ugenya exercises in the spirit of the handshake. ODM reciprocated in Wajir West by-election.

But it will be difficult to rule out pockets of nondescript parties fielding candidates as well as those likely to run independently.

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Publish date : 2019-08-15 08:43:27

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