The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has legalized seeking elective seats for people with ongoing integrity cases.
According to the Electoral body, it cannot prevent anyone from contesting in the polls based on a High Court ruling in 2013 which allowed Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to run for office despite facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The commission, through an affidavit, argues that one is legally presumed innocent until proven guilty and as such there is no need to interfere with judicial processes.
“The commission understands the court’s decision in the case against President Kenyatta and DP Ruto that we must strike a balance between the right of an individual to contest in an election and the presumption of innocence of any accused person,” IEBC’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs Chrispine Owiye swore in the affidavit.
The commission was responding to a suit filed by activist Okiya Omtatah who wanted politicians of questionable integrity standing to be barred from contesting in the pools.
Omtatah argued that allowing the said aspirants to run for public office is a threat to Kenya’s constitutional order, submitting that leaders with a history of corruption would be detrimental to the country’s governance and fight against graft if elected.
IEBC The Wafula Chebukati-led agency, however, said that it was the duty of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to provide integrity records of individuals, although they are not enough to bar someone from vying.
“We might have the integrity records of an individual but unless it is backed by an order of court or quasi-judicial body, it is not possible to block such candidates from contesting in the election,” stated Owiye.
The latest comes just two weeks after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) said it will not be charging politicians over graft during the campaign period to give them time to focus on wooing voters.
Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji said he had halted approval of corruption files linked to politicians and that the files will not be acted on until after the elections.