Kenyan set to become first person of African descent in the Australian Senate

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Kenyan Lucy Gichuhi is set to become the first person of African descent to be elected as senator in Australia following a successful vote recount.

The Guardian reports that if her election is confirmed by the high court she will be the first candidate of African descent to be elected to the federal parliament.

Gichuhi came second after the winner Bob Day. She was considered eligible after Day was forced to step down.

She was the only other candidate besides Mr Day seeking to represent the state of South Australia in the Senate through the Family First Party. Based on the votes the party garnered, only Mr Day could go to the Senate and the result was tough luck for Mrs Gichuhi, whose dream of being a senator had to wait at least till the next general election.

She won the recount conducted on the orders of an Australian High Court in its April 5 verdict.

Now all she needs is an official declaration of the recount by the court before she becomes one of Australia’s 76 senators, the Daily Nation reports.

In an interview with the ABC News Mrs Gichuhi said, “I am honoured and grateful for this opportunity to serve Australia. I see it as an opportunity to give back to this great nation.”

Mrs Gichuhi, a lawyer, was born in in Hiriga village in Nyeri County which is in Central Kenya.

She, together with her husband and their three children, moved to Australia in 1999 and became a citizen two years later, ABC News reports.

In an interview with the Daily Nation she said she had left Kenya as an accountant and her husband as a quantity surveyor but in Australia she went back to school and became a lawyer while her husband is now an engineer.

Now the only thing holding her back is whether she was holding a dual citizenship at the time of the election. To be a senator in Australia, one must not hold dual citizenship and questions have been emerging from some quarters as to whether she has given up her Kenyan citizenship.

“I am an Australian citizen and am eligible to serve. I will continue to take advice on all of these matters as we move forward,” Mrs Gichuhi said in the statement published by ABC.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to Australia Isaiya Kabira has also weighed in on the citizenship matter.

“Our records indicate she has never applied for dual citizenship. We respect her decision to be an Australian citizen,” he told The Weekend Australian last week.

Australia’s acting shadow attorney-general Katy Gallagher told ABC that the citizenship matter was a “complicated legal issue”.

“After obtaining legal advice from senior counsel, the ALP is considering making a further submission on this matter when the Court of Disputed Returns considers it again next week,” she said. “This is not about Ms Gichuhi, this is about the integrity of the Senate and electoral system.”

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