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Parties to comply with gender rule in 2022 elections, court rules

Political parties have been spared from complying with the gender rule principle in the ongoing primaries and in August 8 polls.

This follows a High Court verdict by Justice Enoch Chacha Mwita on Tuesday in which he ruled that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should reject party lists which do not comply with the two thirds gender rule for candidates of the 290 constituency seats and the 47 for the Senate as from the 2022 elections.

Even though Justice Mwita declared that political parties are bound by the Constitution to comply with provisions of the gender rule, he ordered them to consider formulating rules and regulations that will ensure compliance with the same in the next six months.

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The judge pointed out that, should political parties fail to do so, the IEBC should devise an administrative mechanism to ensure the gender principle is realised among political parties during nomination exercises for parliamentary elections.

“I do not see how political parties can be made to rework their nomination programmes so that they comply with the two thirds gender principle were they to be ordered to do so, for avoidance of doubt and in order to avoid disruption, this order shall not apply to the General Election of August 8,” ruled Justice Mwita.

IEBC HAS POWERS

The judge also ruled that the IEBC has the powers to ensure that nominations carried out by political parties meet the requirements of the Constitution hence have the right to reject lists that are not compliant.

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“The spirit of the Constitution is that we must have elections on the due date, between now and that time it is preparatory period hence the court must avoid disrupting this constitutional calendar,” said Justice Mwita.

Katiba Institute had sued the IEBC and wanted to have political parties compelled to enforce the gender principle in the oncoming polls.

They had argued that the case would impact the nomination process of the political parties’ candidates for the coming elections whose set timeline was initially, March 23 hence wanted IEBC compelled to reject nomination lists of leaders for the posts of MPs and Senators if they do not comply with the rule.

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ENSURE COMPLIANCE

Before going to court on January 25, they had written to the IEBC on December 15, last year seeking to know whether the electoral agency intends to ensure all political parties comply with the gender rule.

But IEBC had told court that political parties have been urged to consider the two thirds gender rule, consider applying reasonable nomination fees for special interest groups and prioritising a woman as a top candidate on party lists.

IEBC had also pointed out that it’s indeed a challenge to implement the two-thirds gender principle in elective posts and also impose sanctions to political parties for being non-compliant.

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