Kenyan judges and Lawyers Blast Kenyatta ‘veiled threats’ Tactics

President Kenyatta referred to his country’s Supreme Court judges as “crooks” after they rescinded his election win.

EAST AFRICA —Judicial independence and equal powers have been demonstrated in the east African state Kenya in the past few days when the country’s supreme court reverse an electoral decision nullifying the results of the August 8 presidential elections that named incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner.

While many Kenyans at home and abroad applauded the court’s move, President Kenyatta referred to the entire supreme court bench as “crooks,” in addition to make threats.
That reference did not sit well with the judges and lawyers’ associations of the country.

In statements, several Kenyan judges have criticized what they termed as the “veiled threats” made by President Uhuru Kenyatta after the judiciary overturned his election on the ground that it was flawed.

The supreme court called Kenyatta’s insults and condemnation as “an assault on the judiciary”, the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) late on Saturday asked Kenyans to ignore “political rhetoric.”

“The president of this country referred to the president of the Supreme Court and the other judges as “wakora”, or crooks in Swahili, it said.

“He went on to make veiled threats against the same judges based on their decision. The same threats against the judiciary have been repeated at State House,” said its chief Bryan Khaemba, referring to the presidential palace.

“We condemn this assault on the decisional independence of the honorable judges,” he said.

READ MORE: Kenya president warns judiciary after vote nullified

It can be recalled that Chief Justice David Maraga last Friday declared Kenyatta’s victory in the August 8 polls “invalid, null and void”, pointing to widespread irregularities in the electronic transmission of vote results.

An angry President Kenyatta stated he respected the court’s decision but smashed the judges, saying: “Every time we do something, a judge comes out and places an injunction. It can’t go on like this … there is a problem and we must fix it.

“I think those robes they wear make them think that they are clever than the rest of us Kenyans,” Kenyatta said of the Supreme Court judges, taking specific aim at Chief Justice Maraga.

“Maraga thinks he can overturn the will of the people. We shall show you … that the will of the people cannot be overturned by a few people.”

On Friday, he blasted the judges as “crooks”.

READ MORE: Why did Kenya’s Supreme Court annul the elections?

Analysts and political commentators say this is the first time a presidential election result has been overturned in the history of Africa.

The decision of the supreme court last Saturday has been welcomed by Kenyatta’s challenger Raila Odinga, who has lost presidential elections in 1997, 2007 to former president Kibaki and 2013 to incumbent president Kenyatta.

Odinga is calling for the reconstitution of the country’s election commission, saying, he has no faith in the national election commission, which is tasked with organizing elections in the next 60 days.

Both international and local media groups have praised the ruling as a hard-fought win for the rule of law, and a mark of a matured democracy.

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Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere

Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere is a public affairs researcher and senior investigative correspondent.
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