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Judiciary ready to handle poll petitions

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – The Judiciary has assured Kenyans that it is ready to handle election disputes should they occur in future elections.

High Court Judge David Majanja said all mechanisms had been put in place especially the establishment of an elections preparation committee and the undertaking of comprehensive judicial reforms.

“The electioneering committee will see how we can deal with election disputes in an efficient and effective manner and ensure other. The judiciary has undertaking reforms and Kenyans can now have faith disputes will be handled,” he assured.

The committee will decide on the number of judges to handle election disputes and design the mode in which it will hear them to ensure they are acted upon within six months.

However, he expressed concerns that there is a shortage of high court judges since presently there are only 70.

He fears the high court will be incapacitated should election petition outnumber previous election cases.

“If Kenyans are to file petitions in the high court at the rate which they were filing we expect no less than 500 filings, we have to hear them within six months and we have only 70 judges, are we going to stop murder trials because we are dealing with elections,” he wondered though he was optimistic that in the ongoing judicial reforms, high court judges will be increased to 115 which he still indicated was inadequate.

Kenya is set to have 47 governors, 47 senators, 1,450 county assembly ward representatives and 290 MPs which are quite different from previous elections which had no senators, governors, youth and women representatives and had fewer MPs yet the petitions were still overwhelming.

Majanja further urged Kenyans to refrain from violence and try to resolve any minor disputes to allow the judiciary time to deal with serious cases related to elections.

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“What we are asking Kenyans to do is to be peaceful, to resolve their disputes so that you give us space to deal with what is important,” he urged.

Majanja also appealed to Kenyans to exercise their responsibilities as granted in the new constitutions to ensure elections are done democratically and also move to court to challenge instances that they feel their rights have been violated.

The judiciary has been rated high in the country following an active transformation process intended to restore public confidence that has lacked in the Kenyan justice system for many years.

Reports have indicated that Kenyans had no faith in local courts and did not trust them to resolve the disputed 2007 election that left over 1,000 Kenyans dead and over 350,000 others displaced.

The country instead relied on the international community to resolve the political stalemate.


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