By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee Party lieutenants’ have been condemned for their attacks against the judiciary and their veiled threats on individual judges over electoral disputes pending before courts.
The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) said statements by President Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Majority Leader Aden Duale, targeting the judiciary were a recipe for chaos in the country.
A statement by ICJ Kenya executive Director, Mr Samwel Mohochi, asked President Kenyatta to demonstrates leadership and retract his unfortunate remarks against the judiciary.
While speaking in Kabartonjo Town in Baringo County, President Kenyatta and the other Jubilee leaders faulted the courts over the recent ruling on the award of printing of ballot papers to a Dubai-based company.
President Kenyatta warned judges against frustrating the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in order not to conduct the August 8 General Election.
The President said he would not accept any attempt to postpone the polls.
Speaking at Kabartonjo Primary School in Baringo County on Sunday, President Kenyatta said the Judiciary should not take them for fools for being silent as the courts make decisions that could lead to the postponement of the elections
He said Jubilee will no longer keep silent as the Judiciary continues to put up obstacles towards the preparations for the coming polls.
“I want to tell those in the courts that because we have respected you for a long time we are not fools. We cannot accept the courts to be used by those not interested in the elections to frustrate IEBC,” said the President.
The Jubilee leaders accused Chief Justice David Maraga over comments attributed to him on the case before it was heard by the court claiming that he may have influenced the outcome.
In the ruling, the three High Court judge bench stopped Al Ghurair from printing the presidential ballot papers even as it okayed for the other five positions of governor, senator, MP, woman representatives and MCAs.
And the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) termed President Kenyatta’s attack on the judiciary as irresponsible and an act of intimidation.
In a statement, LSK president Isaac Okero said the attack was “deplorable and an attempt to compromise the independence of the Judiciary”.
Mr Okero noted that the members of the Executive and the Legislature, their status notwithstanding, do disservice to the nation by violating the constitutional principles that guarantee the independence of the Judiciary.
“It is irresponsible of the president, the deputy president, MPs or any person to make statements to the effect that the Chief Justice and judges of the Judiciary are partial, make decisions founded on bias or that judges are directed by the CJ and do not enjoy decisional independence,” he said.
ICJ Kenya said if the rule of law is to be upheld, it is essential that there should be an independent judiciary as the rule of law requires that the courts have jurisdiction to scrutinize the actions of government to ensure that they are lawful.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto addressing Jubilee supporters in Baringo. PHOTO/PSCU
“We believe in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief; and in the individual’s inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which he or she lives,” Mr Muhochi said.
He said the citizen must be able to challenge the legitimacy of executive action before an independent judiciary
“The interrelated nature of President Uhuru’s frontal attack on the Judiciary as a whole and veiled threats on individual judges with regards to electoral dispute resolution sends a dangerous and chilling message: that the executive shall not respect electoral dispute resolution by the courts and flagrantly negates public trust and confidence in the rule of law,” Mr Muhochi said.
He said President Kenyatta’s threats against the Judiciary fell way below the leadership standard expected of a government and its leaders.
The LSK said statements such as those issued by Jubilee leaders erode public confidence in the Judiciary and are acts of intimidation completely inconsistent with the oaths of office of these high ranking state officers that bind them to respect and uphold the constitution.
“The accusations and warnings levelled at the Chief Justice and the judiciary represent as unacceptable breach of the doctrine of separation of powers and a gross violation of the independence of the judiciary at a time when it plays critical role on behalf of the people in resolving disputes arising from election process,” Mr Okero said.