Wetang’ula pleads for a chance to defend himself

By: PETER LEFTIE

Embattled Cord co-principal Moses Wetang’ula on Tuesday asked the electoral agency to give him a chance to defend himself before removing his name from the voters’ register.

Through his lawyer, Mr James Orengo, Mr Wetang’ula said striking out his name would violate the his constitutional rights.

“Deleting the name of Senator Moses Wetang’ula from the register would constitute a serious constitutional violation and undermine the pillar of Kenya’s democracy,” Mr Orengo argued in a letter to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Issack Hassan.

The Siaya Senator’s letter follows a move by Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro last Friday to gazette a Supreme Court report, which found Mr Wetang’ula guilty of voter bribery.

The Speaker was first required to publish the court’s report in the Kenya Gazette before the electoral agency takes up the matter for review and recommendations for any further action.

Section 87(3) of the Elections Act states that once the Speaker has gazetted a ruling, the commission shall consider the report and delete from the register of voters, the name of the person who is disqualified.

2017 ELECTIONS

There are fears that the commission could resolve to do so, effectively barring Mr Wetang’ula from participating in the 2017 elections.

In his letter, Mr Orengo who is leading a battery of lawyers picked by the Opposition coalition to save Mr Wetang’ula’s political career, argued that commission could only remove the name of the Bungoma senator from the register if he has been convicted of an election offence.

“Our client has never been convicted of an election offence as understood in criminal law and in terms of the judgment of the Supreme Court,” he said.

The Constitution says that one can only be disqualified from registering as a voter if one has been convicted of an election violence in the preceding five years.

Mr Orengo said it was on the basis of this provision that the commission cleared Mr Wetang’ula to run in the by-election for the Bungoma senatorial seat in December 2013.

He said that Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko had also established that there was no evidence to institute any criminal proceedings against him.

“In consideration of this matter, you are duty bound under the law to give our client the right to make his representations as envisaged under Section 87(3) of the Elections Act,” Mr Orengo added.