By JUDY OGUTU
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, a key suspect at The Hague, has taken on Chief Justice Willy Mutunga over his statements on leadership and integrity issues. And, curiously, Attorney General Githu Muigai came out backing Uhuru and Eldoret North MP William Ruto in a case challenging their eligibility to run for president while still saddled with the crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court.
Githu dismissed the local case challenging their candidature on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. In a preliminary objection filed in court on Tuesday, the AG argued the case should be dismissed as it conflicts with the constitutional provision of presumption of innocence before a trial and it was based on “speculation and conjecture”.
The court, he argues, was being invited to enter the arena of legislation that constitutionally belongs to Parliament. “The petition is misconceived based on total misrepresentation and misapplication of the Constitution of Kenya and the legal process at International Criminal Court,” adds Muigai.
On his part, Uhuru wants the court to have Mutunga stopped from issuing statements, which he says have a bearing on his presidential ambition.
Uhuru registered his protest when a case challenging his candidature and Ruto’s came up for hearing on Tuesday. Patrick Njuguna, Augustino Neto, and Charles Omanga have filed the case.
Other parties to the suit are Kenya Youth Parliament, and Kenya Youth League. These parties argued that the two are suspects charged before ICC and therefore do not meet the threshold of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity.
Interestingly, when the case came up for hearing on Tuesday, it faced another roadblock as two out of the three judges hearing it were reportedly indisposed, and, therefore, the case could not proceed.
Justice Isaack Lenaola, who is the third judge, informed lawyers for the three parties of the development, saying his colleagues Mohamed Warsame and Philomena Mwilu were indisposed. He adjourned the case to September 27.
However, before Justice Lenaola could adjourn the proceedings Uhuru’s lawyer Evans Monari hit out at Mutunga, saying his utterances through Press statements were of concern to his client.
Curiously, Ruto who has personally been sued with Uhuru was neither in court nor did he send any of his lawyers to represent him. “I would like to register protest on remarks of certain judicial officers. The Chief Justice has been issuing Press statements. It is not viable that the issue is discussed in this manner,” Monari said.
But before he could stretch his protest, Justice Lenaola said the rules of engagement are clear and neither judges nor advocates should make substantive comments on the case.