News24

Kenya polls in 2013 'unless govt dissolved'

2012-01-13 12:45

Nairobi - Kenya will hold general elections by March 2013, unless its coalition government is dissolved before then, the high court ruled on Friday on a controversial dispute.

The date of the general elections, the first since deadly post-poll violence four years ago, has sparked heated debate with rival politicians proposing wildly differing dates from August this year to March 2013.

Parliament "expires on 14 January 2013, the elections shall be held within 60 days of 15 January 2013," Judge Isaac Lenaola said.

However, the polls could be held this year "within 60 days [after] the coalition is dissolved by written agreement between the president and prime minister", Lenaola said in the ruling.

Since the 2007 elections, Kenya voted for a new constitution endorsed in 2010, which fixed the general election date for August every five years.

However, a bill has already been tabled in parliament to amend the constitution to shift that date to December.

The court's date can still be challenged in higher courts.

Kenya plunged into violence after the December 27 2007 general elections in which then opposition chief Raila Odinga - now prime minister - accused President Mwai Kibaki of having rigged his re-election.

What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

They launched reprisal attacks in which homes were torched and people hacked to death in the country's worst violence since independence in 1963.

Kibaki will not contest the next elections.