AfricaKenya

Lawyers Protest CJ Koome’s Directive on Presidential Election Petition

  • Nairobi lawyer Omwanza Ombati has filed a petition seeking to challenge the newly amended rules by Chief Justice Martha Koome which barred partakers in a presidential election petition from commenting on the case before its hearing.

    Ombati became the latest senior lawyer to complain that the new rules were unconstitutional since there was no public participation conducted before they were set.

    According to the lawyer, no views were collected from the three categories of people likely to be affected by the directives issued by the Supreme Court.

    Lady Justice Martha Koome while she delivered judgments and rulings of the Court of Appeal via Skype on April 24, 2020.
    Lady Justice Martha Koome while she delivered judgments and rulings of the Court of Appeal via Skype on April 24, 2020.
    File

    The three categories in the case include the presidential candidates, advocates appearing for claimants in presidential petitions, and members of the general public.

    In a separate statement, the Law Society of Kenya wrote to CJ Koome criticising the directive.

    LSK President Eric Theuri urged the Supreme court to withdraw the impugned amendments within the next seven days to allow for broader consultations.

    Theuri stated that the lawyers’ association would be forced to move to court to challenge the amendments if their demands are not met.

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    “The amendments further provide that a breach of the provision would amount to contempt of court.”

    “We recognize that the courts have the inherent powers to punish for contempt of court but the amendments as currently enacted would create more disharmony and open up the Supreme Court to further scrutiny and possible ridicule” LSK stated.

    According to the LSK, the amendments by the CJ would create more discord and open up the Supreme Court to scrutiny and possible derision.

    Martha Koome during her swearing in on Friday, May 21, at State House.
    Martha Koome during her swearing in on Friday, May 21, at State House.
    PSCU

    “The Law Society is concerned as to the standards the court would employ to determine the threshold of comments that ‘prejudice or impede court proceedings’. 

    “It is worrisome that the amendments as enacted did not go through public participation wherein the Society and its members would have given their input on the best practices in view of the intended objectives,” Theuri stated.

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