The judiciary is ready to adequately handle election related petitions that may arise out of this year’s poll slated for August 8, including a presidential. Chief Justice (CJ) David Maraga says the judiciary expects ‘quite a number of petitions’ after the polls.
Speaking in Mombasa yesterday, the president of the Supreme Court of Kenya reiterated that the judiciary was preparing itself for an avalanche of disputes that may arise from the August polls. He did not rule out a presidential petition, and defended the independence of the judiciary and said they are prepared to hold the country together at this “critical moment of electioneering period.”
The Supreme Court in the 2013 elections had to sit on a petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election. The highest court in the land eventually dismissed the case filed by the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) that sought to annul and overturn President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.
The opposition claimed that the president did not garner the requisite 50 per cent plus one vote of the total ballots casts to make him declared a winner in the first round.
Mr Maraga said many as they may be the petitions will be dealt with professionally and impartially as the judiciary has the capacity and the will to arbitrate disputes. “But we expect to speed up the process and complete the petitions within the stipulated time in law,” he said.
He said judges across the country have undergone refresher courses to evaluate the issues dealt with in the last elections and the issues likely to come up in the forthcoming polls and how to handle them. Judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are gathered in Mombasa for their five-day annual colloquium.
The CJ was briefing the press after presiding the official opening of the colloquium at the Whitesands Hotel in which the media was ordered to stay out. The CJ at the same time said the judiciary transformation started by his predecessor, Dr. Willy Mutunga, is progressing well and that it is focused on service delivery.
‘Digitization of records is ongoing and that we are determined to clear all cases that have dragged in the corridors of justice more than five years by 2018,’ he said.
This year’s meeting is themed ‘Introspection and sharing experiences: sustaining judicial transformation in a digital environment and electioneering period’.