Raila rejects judicial nominees

January 29, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said he is shocked and dismayed after President Mwai Kibaki made nominations to the post of Chief Justice, Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions without due consultations as required.

Mr Odinga who arrived from Addis Ababa on Saturday afternoon declared the nominations "null and void" as they did not comply with the Constitution. He said they had agreed to withhold the nominations until next week.

He said the decision had caused a constitutional crisis and the Orange Democratic Movement would use legal means to ensure that the law was upheld.

"We cannot as mature people say words that have no meaning," he said and added: "If I had been consulted I am not a mad man to say I had not."

President Kibaki on Friday evening nominated Court of Appeal Judge Alnashir Visram to head Kenya\’s judiciary. The President also named Professor Githu Muigai the next Attorney General, while lawyer Kioko Kilikumi is listed as the country\’s new Director of Public Prosecutions.

A statement from the Presidential Press Service said the appointments had been made after consultations with the Prime Minister and in accordance with the Constitution, but Mr Odinga insisted he was not involved.

"Hiyo ni Kiswahili, ambaye hatutaki (This is insincerity which we do not want),"said the PM.  "Our nation must be led in accordance with the law and respect."

According to the new constitution, any Presidential appointments must be done in consultations with the Premier Minister. However there is no specified way of ascertaining the consultations.

"Because of the principles set out in the constitution which include fair opportunity, merit, competitiveness and transparency, no appointments can be made without inviting applications and creating a process where the candidates are interviewed and interrogated," said the PM.

The nominations also drew criticism from Gichugu Member of Parliament Martha Karua who said the process of appointing the Chief Justice had not passed through the Judicial Service Commission, which should vet candidates before forwarding the names to the president for approval.

Ms Karua said the whole procedure of the appointments was flawed and urged the President to withdraw the nominations and allow due process.

"What I see happening is that the Executive is full of impunity and they are deliberately moving to rob Kenyans the new dawn. We must resist this move," she said.

She said parliament should shoot down the nominations, when they go before the House for approval.

The two principals have in the recent past appointed three commissions after consultations without any issues. These include the Commission for the implementation of the Constitution, the Commission for Revenue Allocation and the Judicial Service Commission.

In 2009 the President and the Prime Minister differed on the appointment of the Leader of government business in Parliament. The President had sent a letter to Speaker Kenneth Marende appointing Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka but the Premier sent his own letter appointing himself.

Mr Marende sent back correspondence demanding that the two principals send a joint name.

The two last year later settled on Mr Kalonzo.

As Mr Odinga was winding up his news conference at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Mr Odinga was on his way there to catch a flight Addis, Ababa Ethiopia for an African Union Summit.

The PM was in Ethiopia to brief a council of ministers on his mediation efforts to end the political deadlock in Ivory Coast.

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