Before the Court of Appeal elections early last month, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki’s swearing in was delayed because State House wanted to make sure he voted for their preferred candidate to secure his job. That failed and Kariuki had to be sworn in anyway, as government trained its sights on the position of the Court’s representative to the JSC.
It is understood that the government fought fiercely in vain to prevent the re-election of Justice Mohamed Warsame. When that battle too failed, State mercenaries began looking for a loophole to have Warsame vetted afresh, drawing the ire of legal practitioners everywhere, and prompting the LSK to write to the clerk of the National Assembly to demand that he stops the purported vetting. Lawyers who spoke to the Nairobi Law Monthly termed the exercise – in blatant violation of Article 171 of the Constitution – a mischievous move to discredit Justice Warsame, as he is “the express choice of those who elected him.” Vetting him would be an affront to the independence of the electing institution – in this case the Judiciary.
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It was not yet clear by the time of going to press whether Justice Warsame had agreed to honour the summons to vet him.
These continued forays into the independent functions of the Judiciary have previously been met with resistance from the courts themselves, an instance being the suspension of the swearing in to the JSC of three nominees – Felix Koskei, Patrick Gichohi and Olive Mugenda – following a petition by Katiba institute on grounds of openness, diversity or fair competition in their appointment. ^