MRC's election case to be heard on August 29
A case in which the MRC are challenging the validity of the IEBC to conduct elections at the Coast will be heard on August 29, a Mombasa court ruled yesterday. Resident Judge John Mwera said the court is awaiting the ruling of the three-judge bench handling the case. The MRC had filed an application to challenge the government proscription of the group. “We should wait for the judgment regarding the legality of the proscribed group. This will inform the counsel argument for the other cases,” said Mwera.
Mwera said the application before judges John Mwera, Francis Tuiyot and Mary Kasango had informed his decision to have the case heard at a later date. In the application on April 23, Stephen Kithi, representing the MRC, told the three-judge bench that the government had no basis in proscribing the group and that the late Internal Security minister George Saitoti, was wrong in declaring the outfit illegal.
He said the Prevention of Organized Crime Act, on which the gazette notice was based, stipulates that for a group to be labeled a criminal gang, it must be established that the group is after some form of benefit including money, valuable consideration, office or employment. “But the Internal Security minister failed to specify which of these benefits the MRC wants to get,” Keith said. He said the Act does not say secession, which the group is calling for, is an extraditable offense.
However state counsel Mwangi Njoroge said Saitoti was acting within the law when proscribing the group, citing Section 22 of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, which gives the minister the power to proscribe any group perceived to be a threat to national security. The three-judge bench is expected to make a judgment on the legality of the group on July 25.
After the ruling, judge Mwera, called on the members of the group to exercise restraint and to leave the courts quietly and peacefully. “Respect the sanctity of the courts and of the rulings made before the court. Proceed outside the courts with minimum noise,” said Mwera. This is after some members of the group had almost turned rowdy in February claiming a deliberate move by the government to delay justice after their case failed to come up for hearing.