Chief Justice David Maraga’s role in the Kenyan elections is pivotal. Already in the bad books of President Uhuru Kenyatta who threatened to “fix” the judges of the Supreme Court, Maraga and other judges will today hear a case seeking to halt the elections from taking place tomorrow.
The government declared today a public holiday, a move many cynically considered a government ploy stop the courts from working. The Kenyan elections have been one of the most talked about polls on the continent. Aside the nullification of the August 8 elections which sent waves round the continent and the world, various international bodies have called for peace to avoid plunging the country into violence.
Despite facing intimidation and unwanted attacks from the political class, Maraga last month said “we’re prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.” The judiciary has faced “more aggressive, culminating in lengthy uninterrupted demonstrations right outside the Supreme Court Building,” Maraga said. The recent shooting at the Deputy Chief Justice yesterday has corroborated Maraga’s statement that the judiciary is under threat.
President Kenyatta’s accusations against the Supreme Court, saying mere six people overturned the will of millions of people, has caused tension and emboldened opposition against the judiciary, which culminated in anti-judiciary demonstrations .
The Commonwealth and European Union (EU) have withdrawn their observers. The EU in a statement released yesterday said it “had to reconsider the extent to which we can observe in the country,” citing political tensions.The United Nations and the African Union are appealing for peace as tensions build in the contentious election.
The recent revelations by former electoral agency commissioner Dr Roselyn Akombe has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the credibility of the election. Akombe who recently quit the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) fleeing to the US citing safety for her life said “this election as planned cannot meet the basic expectations of a credible election. Not when the staff are getting last minute instructions on changes in technology and electronic transmission of results.”
For now, three Kenyan voters filed a petition to the Supreme Court citing that “there is an imminent risk that the country may be plunged into a further constitutional and general crisis.”
Latest development on tomorrow’s elections
The case that was to be heard today by the Kenyan Supreme Court didn’t take off as anticipated. Chief Justice Maraga and Justice Isaac Lenaola however were the only two judges present at today’s hearing out of seven judges.
Maraga started off by offering his regrets and apologies to the parties involved, while stating that the matter cannot proceed to hearing as earlier scheduled.
The court requires at least five judges to be present for a quorum to be formed. Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu couldn’t attend court after her driver cum bodyguard was shot yesterday evening.
The elections would continue tomorrow as planned however the state of things in the country is highly unpredictable. The situation in the country is tense as the country stands on a knife-edge.