My role in elections management forum not new

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Chief Justice Martha Koome has said working in technical Working Committee which is tasked and mandated with 2022 election preparedness is not new.

Koome said the forum is not new and the CJ’s office has been part of it in previous elections.

She was responding to United Democratic Alliance which complained of her “continuous involvement” ahead of 2022.

But in a letter on Friday, Koome said the Judiciary will not compromise its independence and bow to any influence.

“Chief Justice holds a quintuple constitutional and statutory mandate….these responsibilities depict the administrative centrality of the Office of the Chief Justice in national governance,” Koome said.

“The Multi-Sectoral Forum takes the form of an NCAJ process bringing actors together for unified efficiency.”

The CJ led the National Multiagency Consultative Forum on Election Preparedness that brought together top officials from the Interior Ministry led by CS Fred Matiang’i, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, and Attorney General Paul Kariuki.

The party said in a letter dated November 24, “It is our submission that your continued involvement in the Technical Working Committee is likely to interfere with and shall threaten free and fair elections come 2022 general elections.”

“…collaboration and multi-sectoral consultations does not threaten this independence. Rather, it enhances the preparedness of the Judiciary to enforce the Constitutional requirements regarding electoral justice.”

She said that Section 5(1) of the Judicial Service Act of 2011 designates the Chief Justice as the link between the Judiciary and other arms of the government.

Koome added that the Constitution ring-fences the role of the Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya from interference.

“The oath of office is also a reaffirming tool that independence is inherent. Isolationism is, however, dangerous for governance. That is why the Constitution recognizes the value of public participation in the making of public policy.”

She continued that:

“Whenever the Chief Justice is engaging, she is guided by the values of the Constitution and all laws in force in the Republic of Kenya, including the Elections Act 2013.”

However, UDA, in its complaint, said, “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 said the Judiciary must be a neutral arbitrator of elections disputes for aggrieved parties.

Ruto’s allies also expressed concern that should the judiciary be part of the elections management team; Kenyans will have nowhere to turn to in the event there are election disputes.

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