Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has shocked and disappointed many of his country men, women and beyond for his bitter criticism of the judiciary when it nullified his victory.
While speaking at a meeting with Governors, Kenyatta threatened to ‘deal with the judiciary’ once re-elected. He said: “Every time we do something a judge comes out and places an injunction. It cannot go on like this. There is a problem and we must fix it.”
He went on: “I think those robes they wear make them thing that they are more clever that the rest of us Kenyans.” Kenyatta went ahead to personally attack the Chief Justice David Maraga when he said: “Maraga thinks he can overturn the will of the people. We shall show you that the will of the people cannot be overturned by a few people.”
Uhuru’s bitter arguments came in the wake an ‘earthquake’ ruling by a majority of Kenya’s Supreme court judges, that overturned the Kenyatta’s victory from the August 8, 2017 presidential elections. The Supreme court decided by a majority of 4-2 that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had committed irregularities hence rendering the results null and void.
But Uhuru’s tough words have attracted not only a vigorous response from the legal fraternity in Kenya, but have also been described as sourgraping, uncivilised rhetoric unbecoming of a national leader.
Kenya’s Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) condemned Kenyatta’s ‘veiled threats’.
KMJA said: “The president of this country referred to the president of the Supreme Court and the other judges as a ‘wakora’ or crooks. “We condemn this assault on the decisional independence of the honourable judges.”
More surprising perhaps is that when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Kenyatta as winner, Kenyatta urged Raila Odinga to seek redress in courts of law and respect the decision of court.
By rejecting his own medicine when he attacked the judiciary, Kenyatta has exposed himself as intolerant and undemocratic.
Apart from fanning tribal sentiments, Uhuru’s uncharitable remarks could damage his reputation especially among the elite and swing states by threatening to undermine the judiciary whose independence has attracted world wide acclaim.