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Eminent African Jurists conclude election petition mission

The African Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) mission that arrived in Kenya on 28th August this year to observe the proceedings of the 2022 presidential election petitions has commended the Supreme Court for its management of the court process.

The High-Level Panel of Eminent Jurists who have completed their mission said the delegation is commending the Supreme Court Judges in light of the complexity of the matter, being the first time the court is handling seven presidential petitions, with multiple volumes of evidence, within the 14 days circumscribed by the Constitution.

The Mission headed by the Rtd Chief Justice of the republic of Tanzania Mohammed Chande Othman who attended the Supreme Court hearings at Milimani Law Courts to monitor and document the process of the hearing of the petition noted that the just concluded election was peaceful and that the main presidential contenders embraced the judicial process an indication that they have confidence in it.

“We observed that the parties to the Case were given sufficient opportunity to ventilate their cases, with a full day being allocated to the petitioners, a full day to the respondents and the final day for rejoinders and submissions on the scrutiny report,” they noted.

They said how the court process was conducted has demonstrated that the court was in charge of the process while the livestreaming of the court proceedings had allowed Kenyans to follow the proceedings despite the limited access to the court premises.

During their mission the team also conducted bilateral meetings with the two main presidential aspirants, William Ruto and Raila Amolo Odinga, and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), who were admitted as amicus to the petition.

The delegation also met two former Chief Justices of the Republic of Kenya, Rtd Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Rtd Chief Justice David Maraga to acquaint themselves with the context of the conduct of the 2022 elections in Kenya.

“These meetings allowed the mission to gain an understanding of the context of the conduct of the 2022 elections in Kenya and to share ideas on institutional strengthening as a means of consolidating democracy in Africa,” said the Jurists.

During their mission, the Jurists did not carry out a merit review, but rather an observation of the international human rights standards on fair trial, the role and independent of the judiciary in electoral dispute resolution and the context of the elections in the run-up to the presidential petitions.

According to the statement sent to newsrooms, the composition of the AJJF members has allowed the judges to draw lessons on case management for presidential election disputes, which can form the basis for experience-sharing on the African continent.

This is the third Trial Observation Mission that AJJF has carried out in Kenya, having previously observed the 2013 and 2017 presidential election dispute resolution processes. It also observed similar process in Zimbabwe in 2018.

The Jurists expressed their gratitude to the Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Kenya Justice Martha Koome and the Supreme Court Judges and the International Commission of Jurists for the kind hospitality and for providing them with technical support during the mission that will enable them to write a comprehensive report.

The other members of the Jurists include Justice Henry Boissie Mbha of the Supreme Court of Appeal and Immediate past President of the Electoral Court of South Africa, Justice Moses Chinhengo, AJJF Chairperson and Justice of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho, former Judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe and of Botswana, Lady Justice Ivy Kamanga of the Supreme Court of Appeal of Malawi and Lady Justice Lilian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza of the Supreme Court of Uganda.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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