The high court yesterday declined to stop Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from implementing party hopping laws.
Justice John Mativo dismissed a suit filed by Council of Governors which sought orders that allow party hopping.
He however noted that there is no provision in the challenged law barring the petitioners from participating in the election as independent candidates.
The governors had argued that the party hopping laws limits freedom of persons from making political choices contrary to the constitution.
They claimed that by denying members of a political party the right to freely move from one political party (within the deadline for political parties primaries) to another and still eligible to contest in the general elections without any reasonable restrictions limits the right to political participation and association.
However, in a judgment read on his behalf by high court Judge Chacha Mwita, Justice Mativo ruled that Persons aspiring for elective offices must embrace systems that promote democratic values and practices that are consistent with the spirit and intent of the constitution.
“ And thus if an individual is not successfully nominated his inability to shift allegiance to another party within time frame spelt out by IEBC cannot be said to be a limitation of his rights,” said the Judge.
He struck out the suit noting that the petitioners did not address themselves to the Political Parties Act which provides that a person shall not be a member of more than one political party at the same time.
The Judge noted that Political parties are essential to the development and sustenance of any pluralistic democracy and that they are crucial instruments in ensuring participation in political life and the expression of the will of the people which should form the basis of the authority of the government in a democratic state.
“A law requiring political parties to file a list of party members within a set time frame prior to the general election or by election or a law regulating internal party nominations is in my view necessary to the integrity of the electoral process and cannot be said to be unconstitutional,” Justice Mativo stated in his ruling.
According to the Judge, the provisions in question advances a compelling state interest to manage the electoral process efficiently as opposed to the individual interests of petitioners who seem to be interested in looking for an opportunity to shift party allegiance after losing nominations.
“A law aimed at promoting the legitimate state interest in fair, honest and orderly elections is in my view consistent with the provisions of the constitution that require election to be credible,” he said.
The judge ruled that the petition is premised on a clear misapprehension of the law and that the petitioner failed to demonstrate that the challenged section is unconstitutional or in any manner infringes any provisions of the constitution.
“The upshot is that this petition has no merits at all and I hereby dismiss it with costs to the respondents,” he ruled.