For­get Ngun­jiri pe­ti­tion, what is com­ing next should worry us

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION -

If I was CJ David Maraga, I would not worry about Ny­eri Town MP Ngun­jiri Wam­bugu’s pe­ti­tion. I would worry about what will come next. The pe­ti­tion is an ex­ploratory salvo, a shot across the bow.

I very much doubt Ju­bilee wants to be­gin se­ri­ous hos­til­i­ties against the Ju­di­ciary un­til af­ter the re­peat election of Oc­to­ber 17. How­ever, the out­line of what lies ahead is be­gin­ning to take shape. Last week, on the Se­nate floor, Ju­bilee se­na­tors re­vealed plans to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to re­strict the Supreme Court’s pow­ers of de­ter­min­ing election out­comes. That is just the start.

Was Ngun­jiri act­ing at the be­hest of higher forces? I don’t know. Or was he just ven­ti­lat­ing the deep bit­ter­ness felt by Pres­i­dent Keny­atta’s sup­port­ers with Maraga’s ver­dict? Ju­bilee has taken the trou­ble to dis­tance it­self from his pe­ti­tion, ar­gu­ing it was an in­di­vid­ual’s de­ci­sion. At the same time, Ju­bilee fig­ures like Sen­a­tor Kipchumba Murkomen claim the pe­ti­tion raises “very weighty” mat­ters.

In­deed, Ju­bilee foot sol­diers are not op­posed to the pe­ti­tion per se. Their prob­lem is that Ngun­jiri jumped the gun. In other words, they op­posed the tim­ing, stress­ing that the party’s un­di­vided fo­cus should be on the forth­com­ing pres­i­den­tial election. That was the po­si­tion

There is a grand con­spir­acy the­ory in Ju­bilee cir­cles that the Ju­di­ciary has been ‘cap­tured’ by rad­i­cal el­e­ments in civil so­ci­ety.”

Uhuru took when he re­quested the MP to with­draw his pe­ti­tion. Min­utes later, Ngun­jiri tweeted that he would shelve it, “for now.”

There is a grand con­spir­acy the­ory be­ing weaved in Ju­bilee cir­cles that the Ju­di­ciary has been “cap­tured” by rad­i­cal el­e­ments in civil so­ci­ety. The point they make is that these el­e­ments dis­play a raw ha­tred for the Keny­atta govern­ment than can be ex­plained by their nor­mal man­date. They fur­ther claim that these civil so­ci­ety groups have suc­cess­fully ma­noeu­vred their own peo­ple to serve as re­searchers and brain trusts for se­nior judges.

Speak­ing on the floor of the Na­tional As­sem­bly on Wed­nes­day, MP Ki­mani Ichung’wa sen­sa­tion­ally al­leged that these re­searchers are even writ­ing en­tire judg­ments for cer­tain judges. Well, we will know if there is this trans­fer­ence of think­ing when we read the full Supreme Court rul­ing.

Oddly, Ju­bilee think-tanks don’t seem to hold as much bile against the IEBC, un­like the Nasa fra­ter­nity, which has ze­roed in on the Com­mis­sion with laser-like fe­roc­ity. Nasa has made the re­moval of the Com­mis­sion’s CEO Ezra Chiloba a pre-con­di­tion for the coali­tion’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the com­ing election. I was fear­ing Ju­bilee would counter-at­tack by de­mand­ing the head of IEBC chair­man Wa­fula Che­bukati which, given his po­si­tion, would throw the Com­mis­sion into to­tal dis­ar­ray. The chair­man had caused out­rage within Ju­bilee ranks over his ex­tra­or­di­nary memo to Chiloba, which the party is con­vinced was syn­chro­nised with Nasa’s com­plaints. Che­bukati has since back­tracked on the memo af­ter four com­mis­sion­ers dis­owned it.

The as­sault on Maraga has put Uhuru in an awk­ward po­si­tion with vot­ers in Kisii-land, where Ju­bilee had per­formed rather well dur­ing the Au­gust 8th election. When the Pres­i­dent met a Kisii del­e­ga­tion in Nakuru last week, he stuck to his guns about Maraga, but ex­plained that this had noth­ing to do with his re­la­tion­ship with the Kisii com­mu­nity. The an­swer will come on Oc­to­ber 17.

Mat­ters have reached a point where alarmed Uhuru sup­port­ers have started to won­der if he has what it takes to nav­i­gate through the on­go­ing cri­sis thrown up by the Supreme Court’s in­val­i­da­tion of his election. They are as­ton­ished that with all the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices at his dis­posal, he was caught em­bar­rass­ingly flat-footed by the nul­li­fi­ca­tion of the Au­gust 8 pres­i­den­tial election.

The Op­po­si­tion has been run­ning rings around him ever since he took of­fice in 2013. It started early on with the amor­phous Baba-while-youwere-away cho­rus and de­mands by Raila Odinga for “di­a­logue.” It es­ca­lated to the failed Okoa Kenya ref­er­en­dum ini­tia­tive, then to the Op­po­si­tion demos that led to the ejec­tion of the elec­toral com­mis­sion headed by Isaack Has­san.

In the event he wins on Oc­to­ber 17, Uhuru should ex­pect more of the same for the re­main­der of his term, in­clud­ing threats of mass ac­tion.


Warigi is a so­ciopo­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor gwa­rigi@ya­

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