News / Africa

Kenya Reform Moves Forward

The President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki (file photo)
The President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Michael Onyiego

Kenya’s coalition government is finally moving forward with its judicial reform agenda after President Mwai Kibaki’s surprise withdrawal of key nominations after nearly a month of controversy.

Since late January, Kenya’s coalition government has been engulfed in a bitter struggle between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga over controversial nominations for Kenya’s judiciary. The disagreement splintered into many different fronts, with the matter being brought before the high court in two separate cases, before parliamentary committees and before Speaker Kenneth Marende.

Marende, who initially chided both president and prime minister for their lack of unity, on Thursday ruled the nominees unconstitutional and ordered both parties to reach a consensus on the nominees.

The president and his Party of National Unity initially rejected the ruling, promising to continue the fight in Kenya’s courts.

But in a surprise move Tuesday, Kibaki, flanked by key allies in parliament, announced he would withdraw his nominations.

“Considering the importance of the Office of the Chief Justice as the head of the judicial arm of the government, it is beneficial that the nomination to fill this office during the transition period is also done through the Judicial Service Commission,” Kibaki said.

The president told reporters he would meet with Odinga to discuss the position of attorney general.

While the prime minister was attending the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, Kibaki submitted the names of Judge Alnashir Visram and lawyer Githu Muigai to parliament as replacements for Kenya’s outgoing chief justice and attorney general. The president also presented his choices for Director of Public Prosecutions and Controller of Budget. Odinga did not challenge the qualifications of the candidates, but rather his lack of involvement in the process as mandated by the constitution.

Tuesday's announcment by Kibaki is also likely to satisfy those in Kenya, including the Law Society of Kenya, who questioned the suitability of Judge Vishram to lead Kenya’s notoriously troubled judicial branch.

There were also those who had expressed concern over the lack of any public search or competitive process in selecting the Controller of Budget or Director of Public Prosecutions.

While the announcement Tuesday of the withdrawal of the nominations will certainly be seen as a victory for Odinga, he took a conciliatory line when addressing the media.

“I want to begin by paying tribute to President Mwai Kibaki for his courage in withdrawing the controversial nominations,” Odinga said.

The prime minister called the decision a victory for cooperation, but the nominations process is far from resolved. President Kibaki promised to advertise the positions of Budget Controller and Director of Public Prosecutions through the Public Service Commission, but Odinga expressed reservations about such a course of action.

“We are conscious that the current public service commission has not been reconstituted in the context of the new constitution,” he added. “As such, the interviews for the positions of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Controller of the Budget should be conducted by competent panels of renowned experts in the concerned fields with the Public Service Commission providing secretarial services.”

Before Kenya’s judicial reform process is finally resolved, both president and prime minister will engage in what are likely to be an intense series of negotiations over the position of Attorney General. The Judicial Service Committee will also have its hands full in selecting a Chief Justice. Current Chief Justice Evan Gicheru is required by Kenya’s new constitution to vacate office by February 27, making the search for his replacement a race against time.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs