Judges from across Africa jet in to monitor Raila vs Ruto case

The team of five will analyse the independence of the Judiciary

NAIROBI, KENYA - 2022/03/31 - Chief justice of the supreme court Martha Koome (c) presides over a bench of seven judges which consists of (from L-R) Supreme court judges Isaac Lenaola, Smokin Wanjala, Philomena Mwilu, Mohamed Ibrahim, Njoki Ndungu, and William Ouko during the hearing of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). (Photo by John Ochieng/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A panel of members of the Africa Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) has arrived in Kenya to observe and monitor the 2022 presidential election petition.

The High-Level Panel of Eminent African Jurists consists of retired Chief Justices, judges from numerous Court of Appeals as well as members of Electoral Courts from across Africa.

The panel of five are led by retired Tanzania Chief Justice Mohammed Chande Othman. Others are Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza of the Supreme Court of Uganda, Ivy Kamanga from the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, Moses Chinhengo from the Court of Appeal, Lesotho, and Henry Boissie Mbha, the president of the Electoral Court of South Africa.

The panel will have a critical role to play in the petition process as they will attend all Supreme Court hearings. During which they will monitor and afterwards document the presidential election petition based on international human rights standards of a fair trial.

“At the end of the trial observation, the observers will develop a comprehensive report aiming at contributing to a more professional, independent, impartial and accountable Judiciary,” a statement from the group reads in part.

The panel will also critically analyse the role of the Judiciary as well as conclude whether the institution is independent or not. Furthermore, the team will review the socio-political climate in the run-up to the petition.

The Supreme Court has scheduled a pretrial conference for Tuesday, August 30, 2022, at 11 am. The Supreme Court is required to convene a pre-trial conference within 8 days from the filing of a petition.

It provides an informal setting for all parties and the judges to identify the facts that are agreed upon or are in dispute, clarify the issues between the parties, and attempt to resolve them by way of a voluntary agreement.

The Supreme Court is then required to hear the election dispute petition immediately after the pre-trial conference and proceed to deliver a judgement within 14 days of the filing of the petition.

So far, nine petitions have been filed at the Supreme Court. All nine petitioners and their respondents are expected to participate in the pre-trial conference.

Apart from Azimio La Umoja one Kenya coalition party petition, other petitioners include John Njoroge Kamau, Daniel Kariuki Ngari, Juliah Nyokabi Chege, Khelef Khalifa, Okiya Omtatah, Youth Advocacy Africa and Reuben Kigame.

Chama Cha Kazi Party leader Moses Kuria has also petitioned the Supreme Court to deny Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga's appeal to overturn President-elect William Ruto's election victory.

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