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Share dossier on six judges with the public, Raila tells Uhuru

NATIONAL
By Patrick Vidija | June 12th 2021

President Uhuru Kenyatta with ODM leader Raila Odinga when they launched a water project in Siaya.[Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has challenged President Uhuru Kenyatta to publicly share the dossier about the six judges he rejected.

Raila, in a statement on Saturday, said the country deserves an informed debate rather than a shouting match over President Kenyatta's decision to turn down the appointment of High Court Judges – Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Aggrey Muchelule and Weldon Korir, as well as the Registrar of the High Court Judith Omange and Chief Magistrate Evans Makori.

“I would, therefore, appeal to all the leaders of our three branches of government, the President, the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate, and the Chief Justice, to urgently seek common ground in their respective powers in order to achieve a more effective government of the people, by the people and for the people,” said Raila.

The African Union Special Envoy said in doing this, each unit must avoid a theoretical pursuit of ideals that don’t serve the people.

“In the current stand-off over the refusal by the President to appoint six out of the 41 judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission for superior courts, I challenge the Executive arm of government, to share with the Judiciary and the public the concerns and evidence that led to the rejection of the six,” said Raila.

Reiterating that Kenya cannot survive a supremacy war between its institutions, Raila said one of the doctrines on which the constitutional order is built around is that of the ‘separation of powers.’

“Before we gave ourselves the 2010 Constitution, we had gone through an era where this doctrine had been abused and the Executive branch of government had interfered with the functions of the other branches making democratic governance impossible,” said Raila.

Raila said through the 2010 Constitution, Kenya re-calibrated and pulled back to the democratic ideals it aspires to.

“Unfortunately, it now appears that in doing so, we have ended up with a catastrophic and extreme swing of the pendulum as our three branches of government try to find their respective positions in the constitutional order,” added the former premier. “Over the last decade, our three branches of government have been locked in a competitive relationship instead of complementary that has seen the nation swing from one absurd state of affairs to another.”

He noted that no one branch of government can help Kenyans solve their problems without the help of the other.

“No one institution can become the sole and undisputed liberator of the people of Kenya. Any attempt by any one arm of the government to outshine the others or to show that it’s the one that matters the most only works to hurt the common Kenyan and the interests of the nation,” said Raila.

Raila went on to point out that in the current stand-off between the Judiciary and the Executive, this sense of the intertwined fate of the branches of government seems lost.

“On the other hand, the Judiciary pronounces what is legal and what is not. Yet it needs laws from Parliament to interpret, and the Executive to enforce its decisions,” he said.

His sentiments come amid increasing pressure on President Kenyatta to appoint the six judges left out on grounds that they had integrity issues.

According to former CJ David Maraga, President Kenyatta cast aspersions on the integrity of the six JSC nominees by not backing his claims with evidence.

The Head of State had previously said the National Intelligence Service (NIS) conducted a background check on the judges, who had been listed for appointment, and raised integrity concerns about them.

But Maraga said NIS has no role in vetting judges, and that the President erred in his decision to reject the six JSC nominees. 

His sentiments were echoed by Chief Justice, Martha Koome, who said President Kenyatta has no way out but to appoint the six judges - four of whom to the Appellate court.

“As Chief Justice, and the chairperson of Judicial Service Commission (JSC), all persons recommended for appointment by JSC must be appointed as judges,” said Koome.

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