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ODM MPs oppose changes to law on hiring chief justice

By Grace Wekesa | Published Tue, January 12th 2016 at 00:00, Updated January 12th 2016 at 11:22 GMT +3
MP Paul Otuoma (right) with Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohammed.

Three ODM legislators have criticised amendments to the Judicial Service Act granting the President powers to appoint the chief justice.

They further accused the Executive of interfering with other arms of Government.

MPs Paul Otuoma (Funyula), Agostino Neto (Ndhiwa) and Ken Okoth (Kibra) accused the Jubilee Government of using tyranny of numbers to water down gains attained in the Constitution.

The lawmakers were speaking on Saturday in Funyula Constituency during the burial of Peter Mukhalu, grandson to Prof Julia Ojiambo and son to Commonwealth Secretary General Josephine Ojiambo.

The leaders said under the current constitution, the chief justice was mandated to swear in the President and giving powers to the Executive to appoint the CJ would undermine the judicial system.

Independent body

"We want an independent Judiciary, despite its shortcomings, that all of us can have confidence in. The Executive's encroachment on such an institution means the reforms Kenyans fought for are being undermined and reversing what the Constitution safeguards," said Mr Otuoma.

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Also in attendance were Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, Public Service Commission Chairperson Margaret Kobia, retired Lady Justice Effie Owour and Busia Senator Amos Wako.

Mr Neto accused the Executive of using tyranny of numbers to pass controversial bills in Parliament and asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure the three arms of Government work independently without being manipulated.

"In a democratic land, those laws should not stand because the Constitution should be supreme. But we are watching a scenario where there is disregard for the laws of the land," he observed.

The Judicial Service Act gives the President powers to appoint the CJ, unlike previously where the Judicial Service Commission presided over the process.

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