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Plans to alter law opens new battle ground between political parties

by Bedah Mengo NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Ruling party Jubilee and opposition, National Super Alliance (NASA), are headed for a fresh battle as the former seeks to amend electoral and the Supreme Court laws to make it difficult for judges to annul polls.

Jubilee, through parliament, plots to tame the Supreme Court and the Judiciary in general following the annulment of the presidential results on Sep. 1.

Legislators of the ruling party, on which President Uhuru Kenyatta ran for the presidency, feel the Supreme Court robbed their candidate victory and are keen to ensure such thing does not happen again after the Oct. 26 fresh polls.

The lawmakers are, therefore, working on a raft of amendments which they will introduce in Parliament on Tuesday to change electoral laws and make it harder for the Supreme Court to cancel presidential results.

"We are going to amend any sections of the law that are a stumbling block to Kenyans in electing their leaders," said Jubilee’s Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen on Sunday.

"Once the changes are made, the Supreme Court judges will be neutered, they will have no choice but to follow them.

"They would never pluck imaginations of their own to come up with a decision," he added.

The laws the party are to amend are the Supreme Court Act and the Elections Act, the latter which was changed few months to Aug. 8 elections.


Kenyan Attorney General | Coastweek


NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Githu Muigai, Kenyan Attorney General addresses the press in Nairobi, Sept. 22, 2017. Githu Muigai on Friday dismissed claims of a looming constitutional crisis as the country prepares for repeat presidential election. He said National Super Alliance (NASA) lawyers’ recent claims that a caretaker or transitional government would be formed if IEBC fails to hold the poll, were misguided. The term of the President ends on the day of swearing in of the new President. XINHUA/CHARLES ONYANGO

Jubilee Party has the majority members in both the Senate and the National Assembly.

In the latter, Jubilee and his affiliate parties has 193 MPs against Raila Odinga’s NASA 138. In the Senate, the ruling party has 38 senators against NASA’s 28.

Therefore, the party has the numbers to amend any laws to serve its whims, with its leaders ready to use the majority to eliminate perceived stumbling blocks on Kenyatta’s ascension to power.

Kenyatta termed the decision by the court to annul his win as a "judicial coup" and has more than once promised to fix the institution, setting the pace for the actions by MPs of his party.

Jubilee’s fight with the Judiciary seems multi-pronged as they have also targeted the Supreme Court registrar, whom they accuse of misleading the judges to cancel the polls.

A lawyer aligned to the party has filed a petition asking the Director of Public Prosecutions and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the registrar for allegedly handing the judges a false report which they used to return their verdict.

The registrar’s report showed forms used in announcing the presidential results were forged, an assertion one of the dissenting judges disputed.

"The two contrasting viewpoints cannot be factually correct.

The forms examined by the judge were certified copies deposited by the electoral commission in 48 hours of filing of the petition challenging the presidential election," said lawyer Kioko Kilukumi in a petition.

Three other petitions targeting the chief justice and two of his colleagues who annulled the poll have been filed at the Judicial Service Commission by Jubilee operatives.

Last week, Chief Justice David Maraga vowed to pay the ultimate price to protect the constitution and condemned attacks on judges.

Odinga’s NASA has vowed to oppose any changes to the electoral laws and the Supreme Court Act before the Oct. 26 polls, with the presidential candidates noting there would be no elections if the unilateral amendments happen.

"If they are going to seek to change the electoral laws, then we would not go to elections.

"We cannot conduct elections in such an environment," said MP John Mbadi, an Odinga ally.

Legal experts are divided along the main party lines on the move by the Jubilee to change laws that they perceive are unfavorable to Kenyatta winning polls.

"The most of Jubilee’s proposed changes to the Supreme Court Act and election laws are patently unconstitutional.

"The Supreme Court would strike them down.

"You don’t change laws because it suits you," said Professor Makau Mutua, a constitutional lawyer.

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