Rift over Kenyan judiciary
Nairobi - A rift developed in Kenya's coalition government
Saturday as Prime Minister Raila declared "null and void" key judiciary
appointments made by the president.
President Mwai Kibaki on Friday announced a new chief
justice, attorney general and director of public prosecutions in a move
aimed at revamping Kenya's weak judiciary and adding credibility to
attempts to have high-profile Kenyans facing International Criminal
Court prosecutions tried locally.
Odinga, who came to power in 2008 in a power-sharing
deal that ended months of bloody post-election violence, was in Ethiopia
for an African Union meeting on Ivory Coast at the time. He rejected
the appointments, saying he had not been consulted contrary to a
statement issued by the president's office.
"Without a doubt this decision has thrown the country
into a major Constitutional Crisis and may be the beginning of the end
in respect of the implementation of the reform agenda if not corrected
and reversed," Odinga said in a statement.
Kenya is reforming its justice system as it aims to
head off a repeat of violence that claimed over 1,300 lives and
displaced hundreds of thousands in the wake of December 2007's disputed
Kibaki appointed lawyers Alnashir Visram as chief
justice, Githu Muigai as attorney general and Kioko Kilukumi as director
of public prosecutions.
The premier said he believed the appointments would do
nothing to end decades of impunity that have seen successive governments
steeped in graft escape punishment.
"The appointments have been made to serve the interests
of a few people, including elements within upper echelons of government
who have serious credibility and integrity issues and constitute the
networks of impunity," he said.
The two men and their backers have been at loggerheads
on more than one occasion since the coalition government was formed,
most recently when Odinga opposed moves to scupper the ICC probe.
The ICC chief prosecutor in December named six people
as being those considered most responsible for the post-elections
Uhuru Kenyatta, finance minister and son of the
nation's first president, and former Odinga ally William Ruto, currently
suspended from his ministerial position to face corruption charges, are
the most high-profile suspects.
Kenya is expected to secure the backing of the African
Union at this weekend's summit in Ethiopia for its attempt to have the
United Nations Security Council defer the ICC investigations for one
ICC judges are expected in March to rule on whether the six suspects should face trial.