CJ names the election disputes and resolution committee
Written by Carolyn Wamalwa
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Chief Justice Willy Mutunga Thursday named an eight man committee to be chaired by Supreme court Judge Mohammed Ibrahim to deal with election disputes and resolution.
In naming the committee, the CJ said, “The electoral crisis of 2007 and its aftermath was caused by numerous malpractices and outright criminal activity, but exacerbated in large part by a refusal to take disputes to the courts, numerous reforms later, the country’s ambition is not only to prevent a recurrence of past mistakes, but also to deliver an election that would be a model to other democracies.”
Some of the committee members include: supreme court judge Smokin Wanjala, appeal court judge David Maraga, Justice Paul Kihara, Lady Justice Hellen Omondi, Justice David Majanja, senior principal Magistrate Roseline Oganyo and principal Margistrate Lilian Arika.
The Chief Justice added that judiciary intends to carry out intensive training for judges and magistrates expected to handle election offences and disputes to foresee effective dispensation of their roles.
Mutunga further explained that not all disputes arising from election malpractices shall be handled by the committee; asserting that some disputes could either be handled directly by political parties’ internal dispute resolution mechanisms, addressed by the political parties tribunal or the electoral boundaries commission.
In his speech, Mutunga said that the appointments are meant to aid preparedness of the judiciary and even put in place effective mechanisms to help resolve electoral disputes come election time.
The committee will operate under the watch of the Judiciary Training Institute but is expected to report to the chief justice.
It will be tasked with advising the judiciary on administrative arrangements and measures for efficient disposal of election related disputes, development and implementation of a judiciary training institute among other duties.
Other institutions which have been approached by the judiciary to ensure preparedness prior to elections include the Police, Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the State Law office, Prisons and the ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
It is expected that disputes arising from a disputed presidential election be handled by the supreme court within 14 days, disputes arising from women representatives, senators, governors, national assembly seats and county representatives be handled by the high court, whereas the court of appeal handles all appeals arising from such disputes as provided for by the constitution.
Mutunga warned all Kenyans that the judiciary will pursue all offenders regardless of stature or amount of intimidation and will ensure that free, fair, peaceful and regular elections carry the order of the day.