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Kenyan born woman makes history as she is elected a senator in Australia

The Kenyan-born lawyer who migrated to Australia in 1999, made history on Thursday when she was elected as a Senator in South Australia.

Lucy Gichuhi, who was running on Family First ticket, won a special count of the South Australian ballot papers and has not been officially named as the new senator because the matter will return to the High Court next week for the declaration.

The High Court still needs to officially declare the result of the recount, and will consider questions raised about her citizenship.

FIRST PERSON

Ms Gichuhi became an Australian citizen in 2001, and will become the first person of Kenyan descent elected to Federal Parliament.

“I am honoured and grateful for this opportunity to serve Australia. I see it as an opportunity to give back to this great nation,” Ms Gichuhi said in a statement.

“I do not intend on commenting on the processes that have brought us to this point. As a lawyer, I am deeply respectful of both the legal and electoral processes. 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.”

That decision triggered a special recount of the South Australian Senate vote.

LEGAL CHALLENGE

There have been concerns Ms Gichuhi could face a legal challenge to her own eligibility to sit in the Senate because of her nationality.

She maintained she had never held dual citizenship, which could prevent her from taking her seat in the red chamber. She moved to Australia under the repealed Kenyan constitution which did not allow dual citizenship.

Sources familiar with Thursday’s process said the Australian Electoral Commission had advised Ms Gichuhi had been elected to fill the vacancy left by Mr Day, whose election was deemed unconstitutional.

She is due to be sworn-in on May 9, when parliament resumes after its break.

Under the Constitution, a person with dual citizenship cannot be elected.

After failing to secure a seat at the election, she had “moved on” and volunteered as a family lawyer with the Women’s Legal Service for the past several months.