We will go home but only in accordance with the law.
That was the response Chief Justice Evan Gicheru and Attorney-General Amos Wako had for Kenyans on whether they will retire within a year as required by the new constitution.
“I am ready but I must leave in accordance with the law. We must follow the Constitution,” Mr Wako told journalists in Mombasa on Monday.
Mr Justice Gicheru said: “We will follow the law. It is not a big issue. When the time comes we will follow the law that exists.”
Mr Justice Gicheru’s tenure is expected to expire in February 2011 — six months after the new Constitution comes into force, and the AG’s in August 2011.
The CJ has the option of allowing himself to be vetted — like all other serving judges and, if cleared, continue to serve as judge of the Court of Appeal. He will also be eligible for reappointment if the President and Prime Minister submit his name to Parliament for approval.
Besides the two top public officers, several other constitutional office holders are expected to head home.
On Monday, Mr Justice Gicheru said he was not worried about the vetting process as long as it is done legally. He urged Parliament to enact laws that will ensure no vacuum is created once the process starts.
“We are not worried about this issue of vetting and we are not going to have sleepless nights. We shall deal with the problem when it comes, but what I must insist is that the process must be carried out transparently and in accordance with the law,” he said.
He added: “In any case, if the entire Judiciary goes home, other people will be appointed to replace them and whoever feels prejudiced can always go to court”.
The CJ and AG spoke at the annual Judges’ Colloquium in Mombasa.
The five-day event, whose theme is “Strengthening judicial integrity and working together for efficient service delivery”, is attended by 11 Court of Appeal judges and 45 High Court judges.
Mr Justice Gicheru defended the Judiciary against allegations of incompetence.
“Let no one lie to you that there is interference because judges make independent decisions, which even I do not question,” he said.
Also present was the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission chief Patrick Lumumba and Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Review chair Abdikadir Mohammed.