Supreme Court suspends Othaya by-election after Mary Wambui appeal

The Supreme Court has extended the life of Othaya MP Mary Wambui in Parliament by suspending the by-election slotted for April 29 pending determination of an appeal she has filed.

The vice-president of the Supreme Court, Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal, and Mr Justice Mohammed Ibrahim stayed the execution of the entire Court of Appeal judgement which nullified the election of Ms Wambui as Othaya MP during the March 4, 2013 poll.

Ms Wambui will continue serving as MP until the Supreme Court rules otherwise.

The judges said unless they suspend the by-election to await the outcome of the appeal “a constitutional deadlock will be created, a situation which the court will not be able to rectify as the constituency may end up having two members in the National Assembly.”

In order to expedite the determination of the appeal filed by lawyer Cecil Miller for Ms Wambui under a certificate of urgency, the court will begin hearing the case from April 28.

The judges said that the reason for expediting the appeal is to enable the electoral commission operate within the timelines set by the Constitution to prepare polls within 90 days.

They ruled that: “Ms Wambui has an arguable appeal in which complex issues that may create a constitutional deadlock have been raised.”

She maintains she was validly elected and that the Court of Appeal exceeded its powers in cancelling her victory.

The judges said the people of Othaya need to be represented in Parliament and “they need to fully know what became of their exercise of political right carried out on March 4, 2013, and that there is no confusion as to who is their proper representative after the by-election.”

In their 41-page ruling the judges dismissed an objection by poll loser Peter Gichuki King’ara who challenged the election of Ms Wambui.

Mr King’ara through lawyer Kyalo Mbobu had asked the judges to dismiss with costs the appeal filed by Ms Wambui, saying the court had no jurisdiction to entertain it and “there was nothing to stay since the by election date had been set.”

His plea was however dismissed.

The ruling sparked protests in Othaya by Mr King’ara’s supporters.

Police were forced to intervene and disperse the protesters.

Scores of people were arrested.

This article was published by the Daily Nation on April 24, 2014