22 April 2013

Kenya: Judges, Magistrates to Hear Petitions Picked

Nairobi — Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has now selected a team of judges and magistrates to hear parliamentary and county election petitions.

According to Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Gladys Boss Shollei, the team will comprise 98 judges and magistrates.

In a statement, Shollei said that the team has 39 judges who will hear petitions filed in the High Court and 59 magistrates will hear petitions on County Assembly seats.

The statement read: "The team selected by the CJ comprises 39 judges picked from a total of 53 to hear the 115 petitions filed in the High Court. This leaves only 14 judges to handle all other High Court matters.

A further 59 magistrates have been selected from a pool of 408 to hear 68 petitions in respect of County Assembly seats."

Over 180 election petitions were filed across the country by the close of the 28-day period set out by the Constitution in regards to parliamentary and county elections.

The Chief Justice has further appointed Justice David Majanja to head the ad-hoc, Election Disputes Resolution Division, which will co-ordinate the entire election dispute resolution process.

Shollei has warned the public that there will be considerable disruption of normal court business as most judges will be dedicated to dispense with the petitions in the next six months within which they are required to have been determined.

"Pursuant to this requirement, and in consideration of the high number of judges and magistrates who will be involved in handling election petitions, the Judiciary wishes to inform Kenyans that there will be significant disruption of normal court business.

We appeal for patience and understanding from the public as these petitions must be heard on a priority basis, to conform to the period set out in the law," Shollei said adding that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was in the process of recruiting more judges and magistrates to partly address the capacity constraints in the Judiciary.

There are 23 petitions challenging the election of Governors, 12 against Senators, 71 against Members of the National Assembly, 9 against County Women Representatives, 65 against County Assembly Representatives and four against County Assembly Speakers.

The Judiciary Working Committee on Election Preparations (JWCEP) is already hosting all the judicial officers selected to handle petitions at a round table on the election dispute resolution process which will end on Tuesday.

Lordrick is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about political and governance issues. He also takes keen interest in human rights matters, justice and is fond of sports.

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