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Raila backs Karua in judicial battle

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has backed Cabinet Minister Martha Karua’s calls for radical reforms in the judiciary to make the body more responsive to the aspiration of Kenyans.

He threw his weight behind the Justice Minister whose demand for reforms in the judiciary put her on a collision course with Chief Justice Evan Gicheru who she accuses of inefficiency in the management of the country’s justice system.

"I would like to declare my support for justice Minister Martha Karua’s recommendations that the judiciary urgently needs radical transformation to meet the demands of Kenyans" Mr Odinga said.

He said the collapse of the criminal justice system was a clear indication that something needs to be done in the judicial realm to restore the rule of law in the country.

The premier told the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) AGM dinner that the current organisation of the judiciary was a major impediment to dispensation of justice and required restructuring.

He said although the judiciary was functionally independent from the other arms of governance, the system was still organically part and parcel of State apparatus and should operate in tandem with other agencies for the mutual benefit of the nation.

Mr Odinga expressed fears that foreign investors were reluctant to venture into the country due to the slow pace most litigation took in local courts hence the need for streamlining of operations.

"Most investors wishing to put up their business ventures in the country have been shying away from doing so because our judicial system has failed to meet the expectation of Kenyans by dragging cases for far too long" he said.

He at the same time challenged lawyers to spearhead the reform agenda to ensure the rule of law was upheld in the governance of the country adding that the culture of impunity was fast taking root in African societies.

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The premier told the dinner party which saw several lawyers awarded for outstanding performance in their field to foster the review of the constitutional review process and electoral reforms.

LSK chairman Okongo Omogeni petitioned the government to immediately formulate a tribunal to investigate the conduct of the Chief justice who the law body wants to resign due to public demand.

During the event, Capital FM was given special mention for its reporting on human rights issues.

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