KENYA: “Is the Judiciary ready for its role in the forthcoming General Elections?” Catholic Bishops Query

By Paschal Norbert

KAKAMEGA, JULY 5, 2022 (CISA) – “A good Judicial system, protects and gives space to Democracy. The Judiciary is the final gatekeeper for justice and democratic rights and indeed all rights. The question Kenyans are asking, is the Judiciary ready for its role in the forthcoming General Elections?” posed Bishop Joseph Obanyi of the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega, on July 3.

In his address to the media and while representing the Catholic bishops in Kenya in their weekly exhortation messages aimed at sensitizing individuals, communities, and the whole nation on the need for tolerance and accommodating divergent political views and affiliations toward the August 2022 General Elections. Bishop Obanyi exhorted that “the entire elections process is anchored on the law. Everyone in this process, the candidates and the electorate are active players. They must all follow the law which indicates the rights and duties of each one. The voter has a right to be properly informed and the right to vote whoever he or she prefers.”

“The law must never seem to be applied in different ways to different people. Often

we see the application of law enforcement and justice in a way that punished the poor caught engaging in violence, while the real culprits, who could be political actors who incited the violence, go unpunished even disguising themselves as defenders of the citizens’ rights. It is therefore important that the law defends everyone, especially the poor, and their rights from the moment of campaigning, to voting, counting of votes and announcing results that reflect the will of every voter,” he said.

The Catholic Bishops in underscoring the impartiality of the judiciary on litigation of contested results called on the “Judiciary to assure Kenyans that they are prepared and that they will do all that it takes, to handle all emerging electoral cases with speed and fairness, aware of the stakes.”

The prelates said that the electioneering period is a time when the Kenyan vision, values and beliefs that justice is our shield and defender as enshrined in the National Anthem is put to the test.

“The courts should prepare themselves to discharge their mandate in a manner that brings honour to the disputing parties, to the country but especially in a way that the ordinary voters will see their voting exercise respected. Besides, a fair and transparent ruling builds the confidence of Kenyans in their institutions. To achieve this, we ask the judiciary to set a time limit upon which all electoral cases should be resolved to avoid delayed justice for candidates and their supporters, maybe 100 days to conclude petitions,” said the Catholic bishops.

The bishops also pointed out that election preparedness goes beyond the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Security Agencies and urged all interested parties and actors to play their part.

“There are other players and sectors who are crucial, for a peaceful electioneering process. We specifically call upon these actors, such as the various Churches and Faiths, the Civil Society, the Media in its entirety, the Executive especially the whole Government machinery up to the grassroots and in a special way the Judiciary, to live up to the expectations of integrity, and show impartiality and fairness. They must play their role faithfully and fully,” appealed the prelates.