Uhuru, Ruto differ on Judiciary

President Uhuru Kenyatta joins various artistes in a dance when they performed during the 58th Madraka Day Celebrations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu.[PSCU]

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto on Tuesday appeared to be reading from different scripts on the independence of the Judiciary.

During their address at the 58th Madaraka Day Celebrations in Kisumu, the two leaders made contradicting remarks on the Judiciary.

While Ruto said celebrations across the country should not be about personalities but constitutionalism and respect for the rule of law, Uhuru said if the Judiciary is guided by the spirit of the law, political stabilisation will be easy to achieve.

“As we celebrate, we are reminded that our forefathers shed blood so that we can have a democratic nation anchored not on personalities but constitutionalism. That our country is not anchored on foundation of tribe and ethnicity but institutions, a robust Legislature, performing Executive and an independent Judiciary and other independent institutions,” Ruto said.

“Only we can celebrate the firm foundation of rule of law and not rule of men, that is a befitting day for us to celebrate our forefathers. It will be a great betrayal if we allowed ethnicity and personality cults to destroy our democracy and respect for that same rule of law,” he added.

But Uhuru said Judiciary’s decisions must consider the letter of the law, but fundamentally, the spirit of the law must also guide them.

“And I say so because the spirit of the law is the light that will illuminate the burden of the choices they make. For every decision they make, the spirit of the law will lead them to the consequences of their choices. If the Judiciary is guided by the spirit of the law, political stabilisation will be easy to achieve,” Uhuru said.

The contrast comes after the High Court declared the entire BBI process null and void.

A five-judge bench judge in their judgment said president Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga had violated the constitution in the formulation of the BBI task force which came up with recommendations to amend the constitution.

The matter is currently at the Appeals Court.

Uhuru said for the country to secure what it has achieved in 58 years, it must not make politics the heat and light of its national existence.

“Instead, we must endeavour to pursue political stabilisation by any means necessary. I say so because stability is the life-blood of our Republic. What we have built for 58 years, can be destroyed in one day of political instability. But we cannot engage in political stabilization if we live in political denial,” he said.

Uhuru said, for instance, everyone knows that BBI is good for the country and even for those unhappy with it.

The head of state said too many Kenyans have however embraced the fear of change over the need to continuously strive for a fairer, just, peaceful, cohesive, and democratic Kenya.

“They oppose BBI not because of its substance which even its harshest critics concede is good, but because, unlike our founding fathers, they cannot dare imagine a better Kenya for all,” he said.

As for the political elite, Uhuru said if they remain short-termist and self-serving, the consequences of their choices will become a permanent burden on the people.

“Let it be clear to all Kenyans, short-termism is not the path to political stabilisation. Our founding fathers encouraged the liberated patriots to upgrade from the status of being subjects to that of being citizens by embracing freedom with responsibility,” he said.

“I want to make a similar invitation to our political class this Madaraka Day. I want to invite them to upgrade their status from being politicians to being leaders. Politicians are obsessed with personal gain but it is our national pain that should disturb them,” Uhuru said.