As Kenyans brace themselves for the second presidential election in three months, the Regional Director of Article 19 in East Africa gives a candid perspective of the October 17 contest. In this exclusive interview with journalist Abdoulie John, Henry Maina takes a look back at the unfolding events that followed Chief Justice David Maraga’s landmark ruling annulling the contested presidential poll won by the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Please read on…
Many people believe that Chief Justice Davida Maraga’s ruling is an indictment against international observers. Do you share their opinion?
The supreme court ruling is not an indictment against international election observers per se. It’s an indictment against former US Secretary of State John Kerry and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki who in giving their missions preliminary reports went beyond parameters of election observers.
The Jubilee Party reacted with threats and disturbing pronouncements directed at Chief Justice Maraga. Do you think this could undermine the country’s judicial system?
Yes. it’s true that attempts made by some political leaders to strike at the foundations of our judicial system constitute a real threat. However, what we must bear in mind is the judiciary in Kenya is independent and any process of removing a judge from office requires an elaborate process…
In their submission before Kenya’s Supreme Court, [National Super Alliance] NASA lawyers were able to unveil the role played by the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) in subverting the will of the people. Would it be fair for the same electoral body to conduct fresh elections scheduled for October 17?
Since the supreme court has not named another body to conduct the elections, the IEBC is the only legal body to do so. The decision has affected their standing and legitimacy but they can redeem themselves if they are able to run an election according to the laid down laws and policies.
Fears are mounting over a possible ethnicisation of political antagonisms in Kenya. Are these concerns justified?
The concerns are justified. We have heard utterances from politicians threatening people who voted against the president to leave certain counties before October 17.
Last question, Prof. PLO Lumumba’s decision to stand for Jubilee Party (President Uhuru Kenyatta & Vice President William Ruto) in court is met with waves of criticisms in Kenya and across Africa. As a celebrated academic, was it not too risky for him to get into the “jungle full of hyenas?”
As a lawyer PLO Lumumba can represent anyone. However, the fact that he was on the side that was thought to have bangled the election has tainted his standing on the continent.