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Shakahola deaths probe slowed down by High Court ruling

The commission members took their oath earlier this month and were ready to begin the investigation into the Shakahola Massacre and similar religious institutions

Shakahola mass graves site

In a significant development, the High Court has ordered the suspension of operations of the Shakahola Commission for a period of seven days.

The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the Azimio coalition, led by opposition leader Raila Odinga, seeking to prevent the commission from commencing its sittings.

The coalition, which lodged the case two weeks ago, argues that the appointment of the eight-member team by President William Ruto is illegal and constitutes an encroachment upon the powers vested in other state organs by the Constitution.

Azimio asserts that the Head of State has infringed upon the authority of the national police service by appointing the commission, effectively undermining its mandate to conduct investigations.

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Furthermore, the coalition claims that this action diminishes the authority of Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome, who is not only responsible for carrying out investigations but is also prohibited from taking orders from external sources regarding whom to investigate.

The petition filed by Azimio accuses Ruto of empowering his personal nominees to undermine the constitutional mandate and authority of various institutional bodies and state organs.

The coalition contends that the appointment of the commission has the potential to erode the integrity of constitutional institutions and compromise their ability to fulfill their duties.

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The commission, established by the president on May 4, has Court of Appeal judge Jessie Lesiit as its chairperson. Its primary task is to investigate the deaths, torture, and inhumane treatment of individuals associated with the Good News International Church in Kilifi, which has been linked to pastor Paul Mackenzie.

While the detailed ruling on the suspension is set to be issued next week, this interim measure raises crucial questions about the legitimacy and scope of the Shakahola Commission.

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