A fresh petition challenging the integrity of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto has been certified as urgent.
Justice David Majanja on Monday ruled that the petition by the International Centre for Peace and Conflict (ICPC) raised weighty constitutional issues which need to be determined urgently.
He directed the lobby group to serve Mr Kenyatta, Mr Ruto, the Attorney General and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission with the application before it is mentioned on Wednesday for further directions.
This is the second time a petition questioning the integrity of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto has been lodged.
In the new development, the ICPC, through lawyer Eliud Senteu, submitted that the petition is of great public interest and should be heard on a priority basis given that the two have entered into a coalition to run for the presidency and deputy presidency.
“Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have been committed to trial at the International Criminal Court and there are all indication they will run for state offices therefore the issue of integrity as outlined in Chapter Six of the constitution need to be determined before nominations of candidates,” said Mr Senteu.
Apart from Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, the ICPC also wants the electoral commission barred from accepting the candidature of any person seeking to be president, governor, senator or MP if such a person is subject to a criminal case whose sentence is at least six months.
They want a court declaration that the candidature of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto is a threat to the constitution and a perpetuation of a culture of impunity.
ICPC argued that according to the constitution, a leader is contemplated to be someone who carries dignity, legitimacy and has the people’s trust and confidence.
“A person committed to trial at the Hague would not be able to discharge his duties since he would be required to attend the hearings which would seriously erode the honour and integrity required of any public officer,” said the lobby in their application.
They submitted that electing any person committed to trial will bring dishonour to the office and seriously affect the person’s ability to discharge his duties.
They added that the trial of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto at the Hague court may lead to issuance of warrants of arrests and erode the country’s sovereignty and cause embarrassment.
The group is seeking an interpretation of whether the presumption of innocence of a person committed to trial overrides the public interest of ensuring the protection of the values of the Constitution.
“We also want a determination of whether Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto or any other person charged on similar crimes can hold a public office and whether that would be a recipe for anarchy and perpetuate the culture of impunity,” said the lobby group.
The ICPC wants the court to find Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto unfit to contest the presidency, the deputy presidency or any other position due to their cases at the ICC.
Last week, civil activists Charles Omanga and Patrick Njuguna withdrew their petition against the duo and promised to lodge a fresh one that will encompass all the presidential aspirants.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are facing charges of crimes against humanity arising from 2008 post-election violence which left over 1,000 people dead and over 650,000 displaced from their homes. They are due to stand trial at the ICC from April 2013.