Deputy President William Ruto’s party now wants Chief Justice Martha Koome to withdraw from a committee established to oversee the country’s election preparedness.
The United Democratic Party (UDA) claims that Koome’s continued involvement in the technical working group shall threaten free and fair elections come 2022.
In a letter copied to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati, chairperson of the African Union Commission and US embassy, UDA want Koome to relinquish her membership in the committee on grounds that it compromises her position as CJ as well as President of the Supreme Court
“We opine that your involvement in the consultative meetings of the Technical Working Committee is a clear violation of the Constitution, the Judicial Service Act, 2011, the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, the Public Officer Ethics Act, 2003, the Bangalore Principles and the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers,” UDA Secretary General Veronica Maina said in the letter.
The party argued that it was the sole responsibility of IEBC to conduct, manage and prepare for elections.
Additionally, the party said the Judiciary had no role whatsoever save for determining disputes that may arise after the election.
“We write to you to lodge a formal complaint against your continued involvement as the Chief Justice and chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission in the workings of the technical working committee tasked and mandated with ensuring election preparedness,” read the letter.
“Participating in the Committee, is also tantamount to participating in elections matters and in this case you are wearing the hat of those that are required to ensure that all is set for elections in this case being the IEBC and thereafter you shall be expected to wear the hat of a judge and deliberate and determine any ensuing election disputes. The interchange of the two hats cannot constitutionally be tenable.”
They insist that Koome cannot break away from known practice and tradition where the heads of judiciary such as David Maraga and Willy Mutunga never took part in electoral matters.
“It is our humble submission that you have no role whatsoever in election planning and your participation is similar to allowing a judge to prepare submissions for a client in readiness for a trial only for the same judge to sit, hear and determine the case,” the party charged.
Ruto while addressing residents in Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties , said public officers and independent institutions should keep off politics and discharge their mandates in accordance to the law.
“Any public officer or independent institution should play its role responsibly according to the Constitution. Kenyans should be given an opportunity to exercise their democratic rights and elect leaders they want and not what they maybe preferred to,” Ruto said.
He said independent institutions should steer clear from political activities and ensure free and fair elections, thus peace prevail before and after elections.
Justice Koome is a member of a technical working committee on election preparedness that brings together various government agencies.
On Tuesday, Koome chaired a meeting of the National Multi-Agency Consultative Forum on Election Preparedness at the Kenya School of Government, which discussed the 2022 elections budget and came up with a report on how to make the poll free, fair and credible.