Kenya's High Court has cleared the way for presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta to run in next month's presidential election, despite his upcoming trial for crimes against humanity.
In a Friday decision, judges said the court lacked the jurisdiction to rule on whether Mr. Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto were eligible to run for office next month. The judges said the issue was the "exclusive jurisdiction" of the Supreme Court.
Mr. Kenyatta faces charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged involvement in organizing deadly ethnic violence following Kenya's disputed 2007 election. His trial is set to begin five weeks after the March 4 election.
Ruto also faces trial at the ICC. Both men deny the charges.
Defense lawyer Katwa Kigen says he is satisfied with the court's ruling.
"The ruling made the point we have always made that the criteria used for purposes of determining integrity is supposed to be objective and the temptations that most non-governmental organizations have always had to use it to contain or manage other people's careers whether political or otherwise has been put off.''
Lempaa Suyianka, a representative of one of the NGO's that filed the petition, called Friday's ruling an "official death" of constitutional provisions spelling out leadership and integrity principles for elected officials.
Recent opinion polls suggest Mr. Kenyatta, a former finance minister, is running a close second to Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the presidential vote.
Prime Minister Odinga's campaign says electing Mr. Kenyatta would damage Kenya's international reputation.
Mr. Kenyatta has said the ICC trial would not interfere with his ability to run the country as president.
The ethnic violence that erupted across Kenya in early 2008 killed more than 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000 from their homes.