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Kenya: Court Empowers Embattled KANU Chairmain

In Kenya, a high court ruled Thursday suspending the registration of Nicholas Biwott, as KANU chairman until a case filed by Uhuru Kenyatta is heard and determined. The ruling therefore empowers Mr. Kenyatta to be the substantive chairman of the party. The court also ordered the electoral commission from recognizing Biwott's group as officials of KANU. Sources say having been elected in January 2005 as KANU leader, Kenyatta and his team ought to be in office for five years in accordance with the party's constitution.

William Ruto is the general secretary of KANU. He talked about the court’s decision to annul the chairmanship of Nicholas Biwott.

“The high court today actually revoked the registration by the registrar of societies of the new officials of KANU led by the Honorable Biwott, and the court was very categorical that elections of KANU officers would be held every five years and therefore the next elections would be held in the year 2010,” he said.

Ruto continued, “The high court also ruled that the registration of the honorable Biwott group by the registrar of societies was illegal and irregular and therefore reinstated the officials of KANU as elected in 2005 as Uhuru Kenyatta as chairman and me as the secretary general and the rest of the officials,” he said.

Ruto blamed President Mwai Kibaki’s government of having a hand in the bickering in the party.

“What we have always insisted was that the registration of the Biwott team by the registrar was with the instigation of government because government has an interest in destabilizing the official opposition party,” Ruto noted.

He said the court’s decision has restored the rightful leaders of the party .

“It therefore automatically means that the officials of KANU as elected in 2005 will continue in office to serve as the legitimate officials of KANU. It means Biwott and his group are now outside…but if the decision of the governing council that was taken about two weeks ago to expel them from the party is upheld the national delegates conference then the whole Biwott group would have to leave the party and find another party on which to conduct their politics,” he said.

He said the court’s decision bodes well for KANU and a success for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM-Kenya).

“It also therefore means a victory for the Orange Democratic Movement because under our leadership, KANU structures had made the decision that we are going to work with the ODM-Kenya partners and that we are going to face the next elections as a joint front between all the political parties that subscribe to ODM,” Ruto said.

He reiterated his suspicion that the Kenyan government’s hand was in the confusion that had surrounded KANU in recent times.

“You don’t have to be very intelligent to know that government is involved in the confusion that has engulfed the official opposition party. The president started about two years ago and took members of KANU and put them in his cabinet contrary to the constitution of the country when we went to court to challenge the decision of the President, that case has never been decided for the last three years,” he said.