In many democratic Government setups, the separation of powers between different arms of the Government are essential at ensuring checks and balances are put in place for the smooth running of a country.
Here in Kenya, and especially following the promulgation of the new Constitution, the three arms of the Government that include the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary are independent and are not subject to the control or direction of any person or authority.
Additionally, the Constitution demands that the arms of the Government should respect any decisions made by the other arms and if the decision is deemed to be wrong then seek redress through the various avenues provided in the Constitution.
However the recent utterances by Prime Minister Raila Odinga terming the ruling by the constitutional court on the election date as that one made by "korti bandia" ( kangaroo court) undermined the principle of independence as enshrined in the law.
As the Prime Minister, Mr. Odinga’s utterances are disrespectful to the Judiciary and uncalled for especially when they come out from an individual who is mandated to respect and uphold the constitution.
According to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, such unprovoked utterances are as unfortunate as they are unacceptable and they reek of Executive impunity and have no place in properly functioning democracy.
“Mr. Odinga is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya. As a creature of the law, he is a critical and fundamental arm of the Executive. He must be aware that he bears a duty to uphold and protect the independence of the Judiciary as required by the Constitution-especially in instances where he is unhappy with its decisions,” Mutunga added.
The CJ said that nowhere is it acceptable to disparage the courts through name-calling and utterances that seek to undermine their authority saying it is therefore, distressing that individuals who bear a special responsibility to uphold the Constitution because of their leadership role would appear to vilify the courts.
So if the PM believes, that the decision Justices Isaac Lenaola, Mumbi Ngugi and David Majanja ruling that the elections could be held within 60 days of the expiry of term of Parliament on January 15 or this year if the two principals dissolve the coalition government in writing is wrong, then he should seek court redress rather than issue disrespectful sentiment at public gatherings.
This is the only way that the country can ensure that leaders do not make utterances that undermine the independence and authority of the Judiciary and the other different arms of the Government.
The writer is Safari Africa Radio's Reforms and Advocacy Reporter
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