The appointment and swearing in of court of appeal judges by President Elect William Ruto may be a good sign of his commitment to the declarations he made to the judiciary on his inauguration.
The Law Society of Kenya had, among other issues, asked President Ruto to prioritize the appointment of the six judges who include judges to the Environment and Lands Court, as a matter of urgency.
The six judges appointed by the Judicial Service Commission in 2019 but rejected by former President Uhuru Kenyatta were Judge Aggrey Muchelule, Judge Weldon Korir, Judge George Odunga, Judge (Prof) Joel Ngugi, Lady Justice Judith Omange, and Judge Evans Makori appointed to the ELC.
The appointment of the judges led to a spat between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Chief justice and president of the Supreme Court, after Uhuru Kenyatta declined to appoint the six, citing that they lacked merit.
Former justice David Maraga at the time said that Uhuru was constitutionally bound to appoint all judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission JSC, and his veto on six names amounts to a violation of the law.
Kenya’s premier bar association LSK had also requested that the president allocates more funding to the judiciary through the supplementary budget, to enable the arm of government to hire more judges to fill the gap of more than 100 judges required for the judiciary to operate optimally. In his speech, President William Ruto committed to work with the judiciary, and also promised to allocate an additional Sh3 billion to its annual budget every year. Ruto also during the height of the campaigns promised to operationalize the Judiciary Fund, which would go into funding the operations of the judiciary.
In a statement, the LSK also wants the new government to support and commit to the eradication of corruption in the country, illicit financial flows as well as make a commitment not to use investigative arms for ulterior motives.
LSK has also called on the new administration to make thorough investigations into the disappearance and killing of Kenyans including IEBC officials who disappeared during the just ended electioneering period, and perpetrators brought to book.
While reaffirming its commitment to work with Ruto’s administration, the Law Society of Kenya led by its president Eric Theuri also wants Ruto’s administration to ensure compliance with the 2/3 gender rule in the appointment of the cabinet secretaries, and ensure that in line with this, appointments are made based on merit and that they reflect the face of Kenya in upholding the ethics, integrity and good governance.
LSK would also like to see immediate steps taken to end extra judicial killings and a commission of enquiry composed of independent and credible civil society and human rights organizations to make recommendations to end the vice. This comes just months after the high court found three police officers of being guilty of killing lawyer Willie Kimani and his client and their driver in 2016.
Finally, LSK has called for a commitment from the president that court orders will be obeyed and complied with, while at the same time, moving with speed to address challenges facing land registration and transaction processes countrywide.