|Correction (April 23): The article states Comite Paralimpico de Costa Rica was suspended on April 15. This is incorrect. According to an IPC communication, they were suspended by the IPC on March 4, 2015.|
With the Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) having its membership suspended on April 15 by the International Paralympic Committee, the KNPC has decided to go to court to try to block the formation of a caretaker committee by Kenya’s Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario.
KNPC’s lawyer Brian Otieno has accused Sports Commission Gordon Oluoch and Agnes Oluoch, who was ousted as the KNPC Chairperson in February, of trying to meddle in the affairs of the organization. Otieno blames Agnes Oluoch’s actions for leading to the IPC decision to suspend the organization.
Dennis Muga Omondi took over leadership of KNPC on February 14, after Agnes Oluoch was ousted in a unanimous vote following accusations that Oluoch had repeatedly violated the organization’s constitution and working with Gordon Oluoch to undermine the federation. Among specific accusations, KNPC was unhappy that Agnes Olouch had hand selected athletes to participate in the 2015 Dream Program run by the South Korean government that gave opportunities to youth and disability athletes in developing nations to increase their opportunities to participate in winter sports.
Omondi was quoted at that time as saying, “Agnes does not want to meet and discuss issues affecting the federation with us. When the Koreans invited us to send over winter athletes, she decided to pick players on her own instead of calling for trials or consulting the board. […] I do not know what relationship the two have, but as things stands, it’s very difficult to get going with her because of the sports commissioner. Every time we try and seek audience, the commissioner will shoot it down or write back threatening letters to us not to hold meetings. This means then that we can’t over rule what the two Oluochs’ have decided to do hence impunity.”
KNPC Treasurer John Tita was quoted at the same time as saying, “We need a strong federation. A place where we all have equal rights and opportunities accorded to us. But as you know, we also need your voice. Members need to speak up when oppressed so that we can have strong teams during competitions that will bring this country glory and medals.”
Agnes Oluoch was elected Chairperson in March of last year, but her election was challenged and the situation went to court. The IPC threatened to suspend KNPC following these elections and the subsequent turmoil with the committee. The government stepped in to call for new all-inclusive elections, which were held in November of last year at the offices of the Kenyan National Sports Council. Agnes Oluoch was again elected.
Internal problems in Kenya caused problems last year with the country’s ability to send more athletes to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The KNPC was unable to get its athletes to IPC sanctioned events with international classifiers ahead of the Games. By not getting classified internationally,12 athletes were unable to go to Scotland to compete.
Kenya sent a 13 member strong delegation to the 2012 Summer Paralympics, all of whom competed in athletics. The team included Henry Mwendo, David Korir, Stanley Cheruiyot, Jonah Chesum, Abraham Tarbei, Samwel Kimani, Immanuel Cheruiyot, Henry Kirwa, Wilson Bii, Francis Karanja, Henry Wanyoike, Hanah Mwangi and Mary Zakayo. They captured 2 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronze medals. The 2016 Summer Paralympic qualifying period has started, and athletics competitors need to meet A and B Qualifying Standards.
Kenya was one of three NPCs suspended by the IPC on April 15. The other two include the Paralympic Committee of India and Comite Paralimpico de Costa Rica. They join a list of other suspended NPCs, including Somali Paralympic Committee, National Paralympic Committee of Mauritania, Fédération des Sports des Handicapés, National Paralympic Committee of Bangladesh, and Albanian National Paralympic Committee.