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Reject nominees, groups urge Speaker

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – A section of civil society organisations are now urging National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende to disregard reports by two departmental committees scrutinising the four controversial constitutional office nominees, saying their stand is biased.

In a joint statement, the five organisations said the infighting within the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and that on Trade and Finance had shown that their findings were guided by political interests and not the rule of law.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Florence Jaoko said the Speaker should instead send the four nominees back to the Executive "for fresh and constitutional nominations."

"We appeal to the Speaker who has shown great stewardship and leadership in matters of national interest not to let us down at this time when the legitimacy and credibility of the constitutional implementation process is clearly at stake," said Ms Jaoko.

She reminded the Speaker that the High Court which has the mandate to interpret the Constitution has declared the nominees unconstitutional.

"We are asking Parliament to respect the work of the other arm of government," she said.

Haki Focus Executive Director Harun Ndubi said that the organisations would pursue all means to block the nominees should Parliament endorse them.

"The President, the Prime Minister and other constitutional officers pledged to defend the Constitution. That Constitution provides that a person exercising authority under the Constitution does so not because of the powers they wield on the people, but more in the interest of service to the people," he said.

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The two committees that have been evaluating the nominations of the Chief Justice, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Controller of Budget have delayed writing their reports owing to internal disagreements. The two teams which were supposed to table their reports last Thursday appealed for more time and were given until Tuesday.

The committees however failed to finalise individual reports by the weekend after political interests were reported to have split them.

The committees held public hearings last week as part of investigations over a dispute pitting President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the nomination of Alnashir Visram as Chief Justice alongside Githu Muigai as Attorney General and Kioko Kilukumi as the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The PM has accused the President of making the nominations unilaterally while the President has maintained "sufficient consultations" took place. The President then sent the controversial list of names to Parliament but the PM sent a counter protest letter saying he was not consulted.

Those who have made representations to the committees include the Office of the President and that of the Prime Minister, the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution, Judicial Service Commission, and the Law Society of Kenya among others.

Besides the reports by the committee, the Speaker of the National Assembly will also make a ruling on the constitutionality of the matter.

Already the High Court has declared President Kibaki\’s judicial nominations illegal. 

In his ruling Justice Daniel Musinga declared the nominations unconstitutional and said President Kibaki violated the Constitution in the appointments including ignoring the gender balance requirement.

Mr Marende on Thursday hinted that the court verdict could have a strong bearing on his decision on Tuesday since it was binding.

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