September 11, 2012 /..The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) has today filed a suit against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commissions (IEBC) and the Attorney General at the High Court in Nairobi seeking to compel them to have election candidates in the forthcoming general elections to publicly declare their criminal, tax compliance and financial probity, assets and those of their spouses as a precondition to clearance to run. This is intended to ensure that law breakers do not become law makers.
Through lawyer Vincent Lempaa, ICPC is suing under Article 35 of the Constitution on the right to information for voters on election candidates arguing that voters have a constitutional right to know the backgrounds of persons who want to lead them to help them exercise the democratic right to choose effectively. The petition argues that this has already been practiced since promulgation of the constitution in relation to recruitment of Judges and other persons to Constitutional Commissions.
Through the petition, ICPC is seeking to have IEBC compelled to develop clear rules that will guide declaration under oath of criminal, financial probity, assets, tax compliance and related backgrounds of all candidates including presidential candidates before elections and as a mechanism for voter empowerment. The petition is seeking the following specific prayers;
a) A declaration that the right to access of information under Article 35 of the Constitution in circumstances of elections extends to the right of the relevant voting public to be given sufficient and accurate information concerning the backgrounds of the candidates including their criminal history, financial probity including tax compliance and assets and liabilities of their spouses and immediate family, and their educational background before elections as part of public scrutiny and to help in making conscious and informed decisions about candidates presenting themselves.
b) An Order directing that failure to so declare amounts to criminal offence for which a person shall be declared ineligible to contest for elections besides attracting commensurate criminal sanctions.
c) An Order directing the 2nd respondent to immediately develop rules and regulations outlining the process and manner in which the declarations are to be made and disseminated to the relevant electorate prior to election of candidates in the forthcoming and all subsequent elections in the Republic of Kenya.
‘‘We hope that the High Court will find it in favour of the people of Kenya to help them hold those who want to lead to account during the coming elections’’ Said Ndung’u Wainaina, the Executive Director of ICPC. Mr. Wainaina added that Kenyan voters have historically been treated to lies and deception by politicians with criminal past and history of tax evasion who then rise to public office leading to ‘unholy alliance between politics and public service’.
ICPC wants the IEBC to be given powers to make rules that will sift candidates before elections to ensure only those with clean records are allowed to contest. They want the declarations to be made under oath and the same be made accessible to voters upon request promptly.
The matter was heard before the duty Judge.