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CJ Koome calls for resolution mechanisms ahead of polls

Chief Justice (CJ), Martha Koome, has called on the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Judiciary Committee on Elections (JCE) to provide proper resolution mechanisms of electoral disputes ahead of 2022 General Elections.

Koome noted that 2022 being an election year, the attendant drums of battle have already begun to sound, making the two bodies critical components in the resolution tables.

The CJ reiterated the need for the Judiciary to work, in the public interest, with all stakeholders to develop systems and mechanisms that facilitate greater efficiencies and better outcomes for the people of Kenya.

“We, as judges and judicial officers, have a lot to learn from your experiences and social scientific knowledge on issues pertaining to peace, co-existence, reconciliation and social cohesion,” she noted.

“It remains a blemish on our nationhood and our democracy that the regular exercise of the right to vote is so often characterized by divisive and hateful statements and rhetoric. This, regrettably, sometimes made by those we look up to, and those who should know better,” the CJ lamented.

In a speech read on her behalf by Deputy Chief Justice, Philomena Mwilu, today, during   the launch of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission Strategic Plan 2021-2025, the CJ stated that strategic planning is a vital component in the management and operations of any institution.

Koome noted that the Commission has a solemn statutory responsibility to facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of the different ethnic and racial communities of Kenya and to advise the Government on all aspects, thereof.

“This weighty responsibility is particularly accentuated during the election period. It is important that you immediately embark on the implementation of the activities within the Strategic Plan,” she said.

Koome noted that the Com mission’s activities, from capacity building with other state organs, community participation and peacebuilding initiatives, and stakeholder engagements, will ensure that the Commission and all other relevant actors in the country are well capacitated and equipped to ensure the nation remains peaceful and cohesive throughout the 2022 electoral cycle.

“You must not relent, I urge you to continue your efforts for yours is a truly blessed calling, to unite us in peaceful co-existence and harmony,” she urged.

The CJ further added that the Strategic Plan, ‘Election Bila Noma’ campaign, is an excellent civic initiative that will bolster the confidence of all Kenyans that the 2022 electoral cycle promises to be a peaceful one.

“The Chief Justice conveys her earnest assurances that the entire Judiciary will also play its constitutional role and do so expeditiously,” Mwilu added, calling on the Commission to deepen the engagement between it and the Judiciary.

She called on the Commission to bring cogent evidence in all matter brought before the courts, noting that there cannot be any replacement for cogent evidence.

“We cannot convict in the absence of cogent evidence. Let all justice chain partners do their part, the Judiciary will do hers,” she said, asserting that relevant stakeholders must ensure efficient, effective and timely resolution of election related disputes and offences.

The Commission last year launched NCIC strategic document, “A Roadmap to Peaceful 2022 General Elections”, as well as engaged in participatory peacebuilding initiatives such as the NCIC early warning system, the UWIANO Platform and the Commission’s interactive digital platforms, ahead of the 2022 General Elections.

By Alice Gworo

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