In Summary
  • Having sworn to protect the Constitution which explicitly provides for independent institutions, the President and his Deputy must stop threatening the Judiciary.
  •  It is alarming that the Jubilee high command has launched insults, character assassination and mudslinging on the Chief Justice David Maraga, Supreme Court judges and other judicial officers.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have set on a dangerous path by threatening and intimidating the Judiciary following the nullification of their victory in last month’s elections.

This is a direct breach of the law and an affront to democracy. It smacks of intolerance and dictatorship and casts the Executive in bad light.

Having sworn to protect the Constitution which explicitly provides for independent institutions, the President and his Deputy must stop threatening the Judiciary, particularly the country’s highest court.

 It is particularly alarming that the Jubilee high command has launched insults, character assassination and mudslinging on the Chief Justice David Maraga, Supreme Court judges and other judicial officers, casting aspersions on their integrity and suitability to hold the top offices. 

There have also been insinuations that the politicians in power intend to use their positions to take unspecified action against the Judiciary. 

NASA

Yet, when the National Super Alliance rejected the election results that declared President Kenyatta and his running mate, Mr Ruto, the winners of the August 8 election, they were promptly told to challenge the outcome in court.

The underpinning was that the court was the best place to adjudicate the matter — and rightly so considering the uncomfortable history of post-election violence.

And it took a lot of soul searching before the Nasa team led by their presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka went to court as they had serious reservations over its independence and ability to arbitrate.

But the court did not disappoint, making what some have described as a historic ruling. It asserted its authority and made a bold decision — overturning the re-election of a President — a feat rarely heard of in our part of the world.

The judges were also critical of the manner in which the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission conducted the presidential election.

Like in all such judicial processes, there are those who support the decision while others disagree with it.

SUPREME COURT

In 2013, the then Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) of Mr Odinga went to the Supreme Court to challenge the victory of Mr Kenyatta but lost the petition.

Then, the refrain was that the Cord top command should accept the outcome and move on.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. Since the court has ruled against Jubilee, it is being damned and condemned but when it upheld their victory in 2013, it was hailed as competent.

This double-speak is perilous and must stop.

Fundamentally, the question at hand is respect for law and democracy. During the Kanu heyday, courts were subdued and rendered appendages of the Executive.

Top judicial appointments were done by the President whimsically and that meant independent minded and level-headed lawyers never got the jobs.

In turn, the judges were a crowd of sycophantic system sympathisers. Nothing good ever came out of the Judiciary.

CONSTITUTION

Parliament, the other pillar of governance, was equally emasculated. The Executive ran roughshod over everyone. This is the era that those in government want to take the country back to.

But the people said No to that many years ago and emphatically stated it when they voted for the 2010 Constitution with robust civil liberties.

This is the Constitution that President Kenyatta swore to protect, which oath he must uphold.

Notably, in his initial reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, President Kenyatta, while expressing firm disagreement, consistently called for peace and respect for each other.

JUBILEE LEADERSHIP

Indeed, that was a humbling reaction. But peace is not the absence of war. When Jubilee leadership launches on the Judiciary with the expletives we heard yesterday and on Friday afternoon, they have clearly declared war, rendering nugatory President Kenyatta’s peace plea. They have set the stage for antagonism that can easily degenerate into physical violence.

Kenyans will not accept to be taken back to that dark era of intimidation, repression and subjugation. Coercion and strong-arm tactics by the administration are things of the past.

Fresh elections have been declared in the next 60 days and the only thing President Kenyatta and his team, as well as other parties, should do is to organise themselves to contest and mobilise the numbers to win. Insults and threats are unacceptable.