Elected leaders must respect the rule of law or risk being recalled


The past few days have been difficult for everyone in Kenya. I am sure neither the government nor the opposition is happy with the loss of lives, injuries on protesters and police, and damage to property and other wastages witnessed during the demonstrations.

Yet, all these could have been avoided. Peaceful and orderly demonstrations are possible. We witnessed many during President Kibaki’s time and even during President Kenyatta and Deputy Ruto’s time.

The killings witnessed during the Azimio-One Kenya demonstrations unprecedentedly meted on protesters by uniformed and non-uniformed police and security officers were shocking as they were devastating. The deaths resulted from bullet wounds or gunshots.

Kenyans are shocked by the callousness and premeditated shootings. The level of boldness in crushing protesters by both uniformed and non-uniformed police and security officers is beyond hubris. It almost appears sanctioned.

The subsequent pronouncements of praise from the top and others in government for the police and security officers’ actions do not disabuse this perception. One would have expected the police and security officers would have been chastised for being brutal and using excessive force.

Sadly, praising rogue officers for being brutal and using excessive force on protesters undermines integrity of the majority officers who are hard-working and sacrificing for our security and keeping order within the law and professionally and even suffering for it.

This is demoralising for the security forces. It is also unconstitutional and against the law. Accountability is an important concept in governance and the rule of law and without it, impunity thrives.

Once impunity takes root, it becomes difficult to extinguish. When President Kibaki took the reins of power he swore to end impunity and by the time of the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010, he had almost succeeded.

The police appeared to slowly regain their place in society as protectors and especially with regard to demonstrations. However, police brutality and use of excessive force on citizens were not extinguished.

This is despite collective efforts to transform the Police Force into the Police Service. The history of police brutality and their use of excessive force tells a story of a police force that depending on the political leadership morphs its excesses either below or above the radar.

In fact, it has become so commonplace that the media only covers extremely brutal cases only. Many reports tell tales of young men, especially in informal settlements dying in the hands of police.

There are numerous human rights reports and websites that tell terrible tales of police violence, brutality, and use of excessive force. It is sad to see these reports with a constitution like ours!

No wonder former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga says “Our Constitution is a beautiful baby in the hands of child traffickers!”

The first article states; “all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution” and “no person may claim or exercise State authority except as authorised under this Constitution.”

Further, it provides that “every person has an obligation to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution” and recognises that the people of Kenya exercise their sovereign authority either directly or through elected representatives.

Therefore, our elected representatives should exercise the sovereign authority and power responsibly, in trust, and for our greatest interests and good. When there appear to be state-sanctioned/condoned killings and violence against the people, consequences beyond waiting for elections to return them home should be invoked.

The rule of law requires obedience and adherence to the Constitution and legislation. If the rogue police and security officers and criminals masquerading as protesters are allowed to perpetuate impunity, then we are not a country that respects and protects the rule of law.

And, if elected and political leaders from government and opposition do not put interests and good of Kenyans above theirs, then they abuse our sovereign power and authority that we have donated to them and should all be held accountable, now, not in 2027.