The principle of separation of powers is a well-settled doctrine of governance. However, the Executive has increasingly acted in a manner suggesting disdain for that.
Since the Supreme Court nullified last month’s presidential election victory for President Uhuru Kenyatta, he and his deputy William Ruto have resorted to issuing threats to the Judiciary in a manner that undermines that principle.
They have made subtle attempts to meddle in judicial matters through remarks that ordinarily sound innocuous but are heavily loaded.
This time round, the President has supported petitions filed by Jubilee candidates against National Super Alliance (Nasa) governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and John Nyagarama (Nyamira), which is the way to go. This is a plus for the Judiciary, the constitutionally mandated institution to settle disputes. Since we believe in the rule of the law, disputes must be settled in the courts.
However, when President Kenyatta added the rider that “we shall follow up” the matters, he opened doors for interpretations.
The President and his party have a right to support and ensure justice is done for their members.
But when he undertakes to follow up what happens in the courts, he is sending mixed signals to the judges — more so, coming against the backdrop of an intensified campaign against the Judiciary.
In one respect, the President has been chastising the courts, but on the other hand, he is keen to follow up what transpires there. But because of the stature of his office, such statements raise more questions than answers. How will he follow up the matter? What signal is he sending to the courts?
It is not lost on anyone that the August election has led to the largest number of petitions, about 280, which means there is discontent all round. But the main reason for the flurry of petitions is the nullification of the presidential vote, which has emboldened candidates to seek legal redress with the confidence that they can get justice in the courts.
President Kenyatta has to be measured in his remarks on court matters to avoid being misunderstood.