The Kenyan judiciary has scored another first after it skipped the opening of the 12th parliament. Also missing in action were legislators allied to opposition coalition NASA. It is traditional for the judiciary, led by the Chief Justice, to attend a president’s first address to parliament in Commonwealth Nations.
The judiciary’s skipping of the event is perhaps an open protest to president Uhuru’s brazen attacks against it. Uhuru has severally gone on record saying that he will ‘fix’ the judiciary once he wins the presidential election re-run.
This stems from the supreme court ruling that nullified his reelection on grounds of massive illegalities on the part of the second respondent (IEBC). It is noteworthy that while delivering the ruling, Chief Justice Maraga expressly stated that the first respondent (the President) was not found culpable in the illegalities.
Uhuru’s attacks on the judiciary did not go unnoticed as African judges decried his threats and cautioned the President to respect the judiciary. South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who is also president of the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa (CCJA), released a statement on behalf of the body, condemning president Uhuru’s attacks on Chief Justice Maraga. Mogoeng termed the President’s remarks as dangerous given the tense political atmosphere.
Several legal professionals have questioned Uhuru’s mandate to preside over key parliamentary functions given that his powers are trimmed. The experts posit that Uhuru is president of the 11th parliament and therefore did not have the power to open the 12th parliament.
NASA made true their earlier threats of boycotting the first sitting. ANC’s Alfred Sambu is the only NASA-allied legislator present during the address.