Koome’s baptism of fire as Uhuru hits out at courts
Chief Justice Martha Koome received a baptism of fire yesterday with President Uhuru Kenyatta using the Madaraka Day celebrations on Kisumu to launch a scathing attack on the Judiciary over its judgments.
It certainly was not the kind of reception the country’s first Lady Chief Justice expected only weeks after she took office and given the huge task she faces in mending relations with the executive arm of the government.
Matters will be made no easier for the top judge who had indicated during her interview for the position that her first engagement once she took office would be to seek audience with the President to resolve the outstanding issue of the 41 judges due for formal appointment.
Recent BBI ruling
This, notwithstanding the even bigger task of dealing with the appeals which have been lodged against the High Court ruling which halted the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process.
Addressing the gathering at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu yesterday, President Uhuru, who had so far refrained from commenting on the BBI judgement, voiced his displeasure with a string of court ruling in the recent past.
He cited the Supreme Court’s nullification of the presidential election in 2017, and lately, the judgement on the BBI case.
“While I stand by the rule of law and I will always obey the decisions of the courts, I am also compelled by my position to heed the sovereign and supreme voice of the People of Kenya.
That is why our National Conversation today must focus on the consequences of choice,” he charged.
The president reminded the Judiciary that although the 2010 Constitution expanded individual fields of freedom, it also expanded the burden of the choices Kenyans make.
“The framers of the 2010 Constitution did not envisage a situation where the expanded fields of rights result in diminished responsibility by citizens and institutions.
They saw a balance between freedoms and the consequences of choice,” he said.
“If the field of independence has been expanded in the Judiciary, how should the field of their responsibility respond to the summons of nationhood,” he asked.
“Shouldn’t their decisions also be accompanied by a burden of choice? These are the questions our national conversation should objectively ponder.
If the citizens are required to exercise their will and shoulder the burden of their choices, should the independent institutions not do likewise?” a visibly irritated Uhuru went on.
He explained that when the Presidential election was nullified in 2017, the country lost Sh1trillion as an economy in only 123 days, “all for naught.”
Yesterday’s attack on the judiciary was reminiscent of his long running confrontations with the institution especially during the reign of former Chief Justice David Maraga, culminating in his failure to appoint the 41 judges and the reduction of the judiciary budget during successive financial years.