Uhuru, Ruto criticized over IEBC/Judicial remarks

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) have criticized President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto for interfering with the independence of the judiciary.

The move by the two commissions comes shortly after Uhuru and Ruto warned the judiciary, particularly the Chief Justice David Maraga, against making decisions that may put at risk the August 8 general elections.

The commissions further stated that they were concerned by utterances made by the two during a political rally in Baringo on Sunday, claiming that the leaders issued threats to the Independent bodies.

They reminded the executive that aggrieved parties have the right to approach the court and seek redress.

Addressing journalists in Nairobi Monday, KNCHR vice chairman George Morara said that similar statements have also been raised by the Principals of the opposition coalition, NASA.

He said the courts, in granting the orders on the ballot printing tender are well within the framework of the law and Constitution.

Morara said that the role of the courts as impartial arbiters of disputes, interpreters of the law and defenders of the constitution require that they be completely separate in authority and function.

The remarks by the political actors have threatened the decisions that the Judiciary made concerning the printing of ballot papers, as well as the decision by the IEBC to challenge the said decision at the Court of Appeal which falls below the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Kenya, said Morara

NGEC Chairperson Winfred Lichuma said political actors must be aware that the Judiciary, Constitutional Commissions and Independent Offices are no longer appendages of the State or powerful political interests.

As commissions, we view these utterances as indirect threats to the Judiciary and the IEBC whose effect is nothing but the emergence of excesses of Kenya’s political class, said Ms Lichuma

She said the constitution has laid down elaborate mechanisms to guarantee independence of judiciary and the independent commissions in the execution of their mandates, and there is a more reformed judiciary that is independent, robust and functional.

It is dangerous to see anyone going out of his or her way to threaten the principle of separation of powers as espoused in our constitution, said Lichuma, adding that the political class must respect the independent action by our courts of law as well as officials who hold constitutional offices such as the IEBC.

She further stated the need for the executive authority to defer to the sovereignty of the people and respond to the national values and accountability mechanisms, stressing that under the constitution, all Kenyans, including the political class must respect the rule of law.

Lichuma said the judicial independence must not suffer from the excesses of the political class and pressure must not be exerted on the Judiciary or in the independence of IEBC.

On Friday last week, a three judge bench comprising of justices George Odunga, Joel Ngugi and John Mativo on Friday stopped the printing of presidential ballot papers by a Dubai firm Al Ghurair and ordered the IEBC to start afresh, the process of procuring the ballot papers.

Source: Kenya News Agency