With barely a month to the scheduled elections in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chief Justice David Maraga have drawn swords, throwing jibes at each other over a recent decision by the High Court.
In response to a court ruling against the Kenya Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) over a case filed by the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) to the effect that it printed ballot papers in breach of the established procedures, Justice Maraga warned President Kenyatta on Sunday not to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.
“When political leaders cast aspersions on the administration of justice based on a misinterpretation of my statements, it has the potential to impair public confidence in our courts, and this concerns me a great deal,” Justice Maraga wrote in response to President Kenyatta’s earlier statement in which he criticised the court decision.
“They are taking us for fools,” President Kenyatta was quoted as saying at an election rally in the western county of Baringo, referring to the judiciary.
He added: “I want to tell those in courts, we have respected you. But do not think respect is cowardice. And we will not allow our opponents to use the courts and to intimidate the IEBC, thinking they will win using the back door.”
Kenyans are due to choose legislators and local representatives for the first time since 2013, when the elections passed peacefully after the opposition challenged the results in court.
The opposition has already brought a flurry of cases against the electoral commission, including the one settled on Friday when the high court ruled that contract to print ballot papers for the presidential poll had not been awarded transparently.
Kenyatta’s chief rival is veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, the head of the National Super Alliance, who was also the opposition candidate in both 2007 and 2013.
A spokesman for Odinga said he had been hospitalized on Sunday with a suspected case of mild food poisoning.