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Kenya

Tension as Kenyatta Clashes with Chief Justice Ahead of Elections

Uhuru
Kenyatta addressing residents of Kabarnet and Marigat towns, Baringo County on Sunday

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have cautioned the Judiciary not to aid the opposition to scuttle the election process.

The two leaders said the Courts were increasingly getting entangled in the attempts by the opposition to delay the August 8 election, a charge the judiciary denies.

The President and his deputy also cautioned the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission not play along with schemes by the opposition to throw the election process in disarray.

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They took issue with a recent statement by Chief Justice David Maraga directing the EBC not to print ballots papers until a case that was in court was decided.

The CJ’s statement was quickly followed by a court order asking the IEBC not to proceed with the printing of Presidential ballot papers.

President Kenyatta, who spoke at Kabartonjo, said the orders being issued by the courts appear to be designed to scuttle the election and it was an unacceptable affair.

“You cannot claim independence and use it to interfere with the functioning of the Executive and other arms of Government,” said the President, adding that the outcome of the election will be decided by the people and not the courts.

However, Chief Justice David Maraga released a statement warning Kenyatta against undermining the public confidence in the judiciary.

“When political leaders cast aspersions on the administration of justice based on a misinterpretation of my statements, it has the potential to impair public confidence in our courts, and this concerns me a great deal,” warned Maraga.

The spat has raised concerns of a possible battle between the executive and judiciary the country prepares for election on August 8.

Kenyatta said every Kenyan has known that elections would be held on August 8 and it would not be acceptable for the Judiciary to mess up the process.

He cited the example of the order on ballot papers coming weeks before August 8 as the latest of the court orders that have issued in favor of the opposition’s attempt to complicate the election and to intimidate the IEBC.

“We have respected you for too long but do not take our silence as cowardice. We will not allow our competitors to use the courts to intimidate the IEBC,” said the President.

The Head of State said Kenyans will go to the polls on August 8 whether the opposition is ready or not and despite the constant threats of violence from leading opposition figures.

Rigging

He assured Kenyans that the elections will be free and fair and that the Government will ensure they take place in a peaceful environment.

The President said the constant allegations by the opposition that the Jubilee Government wants to rig elections were false and were contradicted by facts.

“This is the first government that is serving a term that is less than five years. If we wanted to rig elections we would have started by demanding that we serve five years but we have accepted that because we want democracy to prevail,” said the President.

The Deputy President said the IEBC should play its Constitutional role to ensure election takes place on August 8.

“Do not conspire with those who are not ready for elections. The IEBC must respect its Constitutional duty to hold elections as stipulated,” said the DP.

The DP also challenged the CJ to tell Kenyans why he publicly gave directions to the IEBC not to print ballot papers even before the Judges handling an election related case made their ruling.

“We are asking the CJ, what does it mean when the CJ gives directions that the IEBC should not print ballot papers?” said the DP.

He said the IEBC, the Judiciary and all politicians should work in tandem to ensure that elections are held as stipulated in the elections.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said the Jubilee Government has always respected the independence of the IEBC but it is increasingly becoming clear that they are unable to demonstrate the strength to put their foot down against those who want to scuttle the process.

He also challenged the Chief Justice to tell Kenyans where he stands on the elections and  how much he respects the independence of the Judiciary.

Mr Murkomen said then CJ’s recent statement in Mombasa and the subsequent order by the judges raises queries about the independence of Judges.

He said the number of court cases lodged by the opposition in courts targeting the IEBC and the August 8 election stands at 34.

“We will not allow you to use the Judiciary to sabotage the democratic rights of Kenyans,” he said.

The Senator also dismissed threats of violence by the oppositon, adding that Kenyans will vote overwhelmingly for President Kenyatta and that there will be peace in the country.

The leaders spoke when they addressed a political rally at Kabartonjo at the start of their meet-the-people tour of Baringo County.

They were also joined by Baringo Senator and Kanu leader, Gideon Moi.

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