NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has hailed President Mwai Kibaki’s leadership in the last 10 years during which the Judiciary has undergone a major transformation.
Mutunga says Kibaki will be remembered for not interfering with the work of the Judiciary despite various rulings that went against positions taken by his government.
Mutunga revealed that he had never received a phone call from the hotline he was told was used to send out instructions from State House.
He said: “Everyone who occupies the office of Chief Justice is instantly made aware of a hotline that only receives calls from State House. Previously the line was connected to a red handset perhaps signifying danger and it only rang when there were instructions from State House. I am glad that for my 21 months in office the hotline never rang.
“I congratulate you Mr President for never picking up that call regardless how you felt about matters that were being handled by the Judiciary.”
Mutunga acknowledged the massive support the government had extended to the on-going judicial transformation programmes saying that the reforms not only required political goodwill but also lots of resources.
Mutunga also recognised how the three arms of government were now working, describing it as “robust independence and constructive interdependence.”
“You (president) have signalled that the suspicion between arms of government is unnecessary and runs counter to the shared commitment to deliver services to the citizens,” he asserted.
The outgoing president on his part told the Judiciary that it was instrumental in securing the future of Kenyans as envisaged in the country’s Constitution and Vision 2030.
President Kibaki said that the country now had respect for human rights and individual freedoms while recognising peace as a fundamental requirement for political stability, social progress and economic prosperity.
The president commended the Chief Justice and his team for reforming the Judiciary and expressed hope that they would continue leading the important arm of the Government with diligence, dedication, and determination.
The president said: “In the past few years, Kenyans have witnessed the reform of our Judiciary. I commend the Chief Justice for the work he has done in the reform process.”
President Kibaki further urged the new Legislature and Executive to support the Judiciary in order to build a justice system that worked for the benefit of all and also called on the Judiciary to grant the incoming government the necessary support that it requires.
With regard to the recently concluded presidential election petitions in the Supreme Court, the president commended the Judiciary for handling all parties with utmost respect.
He acknowledged the courts for maintaining independence, professionalism and adhering to the constitutional timelines set for hearing and determining petitions.
“Indeed, those aggrieved by the outcome of an election have the right to be heard in our courts. In giving them an avenue to be heard and letting the respondents adequate time to reply, you helped instil confidence in our judicial system,” President Kibaki said.
On his part, outgoing Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa said the incoming government has a great responsibility to ensure the country carries on with the reform agenda and in particular in healing and reconciliation after the highly contested presidential election.
Other Speakers were the Attorney General Githu Muigai and the immediate former House Speaker Kenneth Marende.
Mutunga presented a set of golf clubs as a retirement gift to the president who confessed that he has not played golf for 12 years.