Court: Include Aukot in repeat presidential poll



High Court in Kenya has ordered the electoral commission to include Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate Dr Ekuru Aukot in the October 26 election re-run.

In yet another landmark ruling on the country's 2017 election process, Justice John Mativo directed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to amend a gazette notice it had issued on presidential candidates to contest in the repeat election.

Justice Mativo ruled that Aukot, one of the candidates in the nullified August 8 election, was party to the petition challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta's election, as an interested party.

He said that, in nullifying the presidential election on September 1st, the Supreme Court ordered for fresh elections, not a run-off, noting that the latter refers to competition between two leading candidates. The judge ruled that excluding Aukot from the repeat election is a violation of his rights.

This comes just a day after opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka withdrew from the October 26 repeat poll.

"After deliberating on our position in respect of the upcoming election, considering the interests of the people of Kenya, the region and the world at large, we believe that all will be best served by NASA vacating its presidential candidature in the election scheduled for 26 October 2017," said Odinga.

Odinga said NASA has been calling for a free and fair election in accordance to the Constitution.

He explained that NASA leaders came to the conclusion that there is no intention from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to guard against "the irregularities and illegalities witnessed in the August 8 elections.

Dr Aukot petitioned the Supreme Court after IEBC gazetted two presidential candidates - President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga - as the only people eligible for the repeat poll. IEBC based its decision on the 2013 election petition judgement, which said that the election re-run will be between the petitioner and the president-elect.

Dr Aukot sought court interpretation of "fresh elections" as ordered by the Supreme Court under Article 140(3) of the Kenya Constitution.

Dr Aukot argued that the Supreme Court having invalidated the August 8 presidential vote, anyone who contested the August 8 poll, is eligible to vie in the repeat poll.

Chief Justice David Maraga, however, directed the petitioner to file the case before the High Court.

Before the High Court, Dr Aukot will be seeking an interpretation of the meaning "fresh elections" as ordered by the court under article 140(3). He had first moved to the Supreme Court by Chief Justice David Maraga directed him to file the case before the High Court.

On September 1st, a six-judge bench under the leadership of Chief Justice David Maraga nullified the presidential election saying that that the outcome of the vote was invalid, null and void" and that President Kenyatta was not duly elected. Two of the six judges on the panel, however, disagreed with the verdict, while a seventh judge was in hospital and so he played no significant role in the petition.

IEBC had on August 10 declared President Kenyatta winner of the August 8 elections with 54.27% against Odinga's 44.74% of the total votes cast. According to figures released by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, the incumbent garnered 8,203,290 votes while Odinga managed 6,762,224 votes.

Dr Aukot emerged a distant fifth in the eight-man race, garnering 27,400 votes or 0.18% of the vote.

But Odinga challenged the outcome of the elections, accusing IEBC of organising what he called a shambolic election "in a manner that violated constitutional and legal provisions." Just like he did after the 2012 elections, he petitioned the Supreme Court.


UTL Increases Service Availability to Over 90 Percent



Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) has ramped up its service available to over 90 percent from 75 percent, within six months after going under administration.

According to Otaremwa Otuhumurize, the in charge of Telecom Management Support to the UTL Administrator, the company's service availability is now at par with other operators in the market. He said the administrator has fixed its power and telecommunication system enabling it to provide efficient and effective services to UTL clients.

He added that UTL has reduced, significantly, its operating expenditures like the cost of sales while month-on-month revenues rose to five percent, improving to the current 10 percent. He added that employee motivation has greatly improved, saying salaries no longer cross to the next month.

Otuhumurize said UTL is now capable of paying on time its bills to fuel service provider Total and electricity supplier Umeme, as well as interconnection charges to other operators, all these using internally generated revenues.He was speaking at a media briefing on internet capacity partnership between UTL and internet connectivity provider WIOCC in Kampala on Tuesday.

He said UTL, in terms of telecommunication infrastructure, is still ahead, citing how they are solidly ahead in the provision of fibre and copper connectivity in 20 major towns in Uganda.

Mustapha Ntale, the Manager for Liquidation at Uganda Registration Services Bureau, which administers UTL, said the administrator is in full control of the telco overseeing its turn around.

The government seized UTL from its majority Libyan owners, LPTIC, in April after it became insolvent. The stakeholders, including creditors and suppliers, opted for administration instead of winding up.

To improve the telco's fortunes, the government has ordered all its ministries, departments and agencies to use UTL telecommunication services.

At the time of being put under administration, UTL had less than 800,000 connections, way behind leaders like MTN and Airtel.



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