Kenyan appeals court rules polls be held in March 2013

NAIROBI Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:34am EDT

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NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's next presidential and parliamentary elections should be held in March 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday, upholding an earlier decision by a lower court.

One of the human rights group that had filed the petition for the elections to be held sooner said it was considering appealing the ruling.

The election will be closely scrutinized because it will be the first since the 2007 vote that triggered fighting in which more than 1,220 people were killed.

The violence led to prosecutions of prominent Kenyan political figures by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Four out of five judges in the Court of Appeal said the polls should be held on March 4, the date set by Kenya's electoral body.

"According to the decision of the majority...the elections shall be held within 60 days from January 15, which is the expiry of the current term of parliament," Justice Erastus Githinji said.

The High Court had in January ruled the polls should be held in March next year. Kenya has traditionally held elections in December.

The polls will also be the first election since the east African country adopted a new constitution.

(Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Editing by James Macharia and Angus MacSwan)

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