Kenya: Soweto – All Credit Goes to Ruto for Appointment of Judges, JSC Failed

Nairobi — Human rights crusader Julie Soweto has lauded President William Ruto’s move to appoint six judges rejected by his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta.

In a commentary shared on her social media account on Thursday, Soweto who represented Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga in a Supreme Court petition against Ruto’s election, said the President takes “all the credit.”

Soweto pointed out that the breakthrough on the six judges who had to wait for three years to be sworn in was the intervention of President Ruto castigating the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for failing to fight for the appointment of the judges and enforce court orders on the matter.

The counsel faulted the commission led by Chief Justice Martha Koome for failing to take actions within their constitutional mandate to object the “unlawful discrimination” of the judges.

“All credit however goes to the President for doing the right thing; not the JSC that failed to perform its Constitutional mandate when the Judges were under assault,” Soweto tweeted.

Shortly after being sworn as the Chief Justice, Koome had sought to iron out the stalemate on the swearing in of the six judges through talks with President Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta however remained adamant on refusal to appoint the six judges citing adverse reports by the country’s intelligence community.

The JSC went ahead to initiate the hiring of an additional seven Court of Appeal judges amid a protest from a section of lawyers who insisted on the need to prioritize four appellate court judges whose formal appointment was pending.

“The JSC never took positive steps to secure the observance of the constitutional values and principles,” Soweto said.

President Kenyatta had rejected the promotion of the judges in 2019 when he appointed 34 out of 40 who had been picked by the JSC.

Despite court orders made declaring him duty bound to appoint the six judges, the president left them out when he gazetted the rest of the appointees.

A further judgment was delivered in October 2021, directing the president to appoint the remaining six as judges within 14 days failing which the judges were to be deemed to have assumed office.

The court said the six nominees would be ‘deemed duly appointed’ and the Chief Justice would be free to take the steps necessary to swear in the six judges herself.

Justices Aggrey Muchelule, George Odunga, Weldon Korir and Prof Joel Ngugi were sworn in on Wednesday to join the Court of Appeal, while Chief Magistrate Makori Evans Kiago and High Court Registrar Judith Omange were promoted to serve as High Court judges.

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