Exactly 14 days after assuming office, Chief Justice Martha Koome is in for a tough start to her nine-year term as the head of the Judiciary.
Within four days, President Uhuru Kenyatta has made unpopular remarks against the third arm of government and appointed not all the judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
During the Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu on 1st June, the Head of State gave some judges a dressing-down over their rigidity.
In his hard-hitting attack, President Kenyatta implied that he was being forced to ignore some rulings because he has a duty to protect public interest.
“From the nullification of the presidential election (2017) to the attempt to stop the BBI, the Judiciary has tested our constitutional limits. While I stand by the rule of law and will obey the decisions of the court, I am compelled to heed the supreme voice of Kenyans,” he said.
On Thursday, 3rd June, the President gazetted the appointment of 34 judges out of the 41 whose names were forwarded to him by the JSC in 2019.
He left out six judges, four of whom have ruled against the government in recent past.
But the deafening silence of CJ Koome is what has raised eyebrows.
For instance, Kenyans want to know if she was consulted by the Executive before the President’s appointees were made public.
Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Nelson Havi said: “For Chief Justice Emeritus David Maraga it was all 40 Judges or none, a stand supported throughout by the LSK. Chief Justice Martha Koome has weakened the Judiciary by conceding to the rejection by Uhuru Kenyatta of four Judges and two magistrates. No congratulations from me.”
Many are also questioning why she is yet to rebuke the Head of State even after his anti-judiciary remarks.
The CJ is now being challenged to confront the issues at hand if she is not a trojan horse of the Executive.
And some Kenyans such as Maureen Lenah say they are already missing the uncompromised reign of immediate former Chief Justice David Maraga.
“Kenyans will miss David Maraga. If you didn’t appreciate Maraga, It’s time you did a prayer to appreciate him. Judiciary dependence happened,” Lenah said.