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NGOs keenly await nominations verdict

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13- Civil Society activists have urged House Speaker Kenneth Marende, in his Tuesday ruling to ask that the controversial judicial positions be advertised.

Under the umbrella of the National Civil Society Congress, the activists led by President Morris Odhiambo said regardless of the recommendations from the Parliamentary Committees, Mr Marende should make a ruling that will see qualified Kenyans apply for those posts.

“We urge Mr Speaker to be bold and ask the President and the Prime Minister to advertise these jobs. That way, you will have helped Kenyans to begin implementation of the constitution on a sound footing,” Mr Odhiambo said in a press briefing on Sunday.

While reiterating that the presidential nominations for the new Chief Justice, Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions were unconstitutional, the activists said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) should also be involved in the nomination process.

This was another way of opening up the process to public participation. It would also promote merit and inclusion in public service, they added.

“The best way to approach the process is to involve bodies such as the JSC, which have a stake not only in the appointment but also in the future operations of such bodies. This way we shall also pry open a window for public participation,” their President said.

Besides being termed as unconstitutional, the nominations of Court of Appeal Judge Alnashir Visram, Professor Githu Muigai and lawyer Kioko Kilukumi to the key judicial positions have also raised furore from women who have argued that gender equality was not factored in.

Mr Odhiambo also scoffed at the appointments saying that if the intention was to show that the country was putting in place an effective local judicial process, then it failed miserably. 

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“If we wanted to show the world that now we are going to have credible institution, this process has achieved just the opposite. It has shown the whole world- and we should be embarrassed about it- that we are in fact not even capable of putting together that credible judiciary,” he charged.

The civil society, he added wanted to see that justice was served especially for the victims of the post election violence and as such were in support of the American government decision that it will veto Kenya’s attempt to have the cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC) deferred for one year.

“We think that USA has a right to take its own position on this matter and we as Kenyans must also be very clear about our position. Our position is about justice; it’s about not creating a situation where impunity will continue to thrive and not creating a situation where in 2012 and beyond we will still be looking back and saying we missed the opportunities to curb impunity” Mr Odhiambo said.

He warned that failure to implement the constitution that Kenyans so overwhelmingly voted for and the blatant impunity that was being exhibited by politicians were creating frustrations which if not checked could result in mass protests as those that have been witnessed in the Arab world.

“It is only in Kenya where an individual can reveal involvement in schemes to fake the country’s currency and no action is taken. It is only in Kenya where a minister can carelessly call upon the locking up of people living with HIV/AIDS and it’s only in Kenya where a minister can dismiss the national flag. Are these people above the law,” he wondered. 

But to ensure that Kenyans’ voice in the way the country is being governed is heard, the civil society organisations disclosed that they will soon embark on countrywide civic education campaigns to educate Kenyans about the contents of the new constitution.

While launching materials that will be used during the campaigns, NCSC urged the government to demonstrate its commitment towards the process by setting aside some funds to facilitate it and also ensure that enough copies of the constitution are widely distributed across the country.

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