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AG warns Raila of arrest over his swearing-in bid

Wangui Githugo @Wango_G

Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai has warned Nasa leader Raila Odinga he risks arrest and a charge of high treason if he pushes ahead with his vow to be sworn in as the ‘people’s president’.

Raila, who on December 11, back-tracked on his earlier resolve to be sworn in on Jamhuri Day, rekindled his resolve during the weekend in Kwale, saying he would take the oath without specifying the date or venue.

But Githu, who had last week flagged a similar warning to Raila, said independent institutions set up by the Constitution are expected to act accordingly if the Nasa leader goes through with his plans to be sworn in as the so-called people’s president.

Speaking yesterday at a Nairobi hotel on the sidelines of the launch of National Action Plan on Legal Aid 2017-2022, a first of its kind in Africa, Githu said the interpretation of the Constitution is clear and anybody, regardless of political or social status, will not be allowed to break the law.

The AG spoke as a section of Coast MPs issued a statement threatening to start a move to pull out of the Opposition alliance, protesting that MPs from the region had been left out by the ODM wing of the Nasa coalition in making parliamentary nominations (see separate story). Raila had spoken in Kwale where some of his party politicians from the Coast skipped his meeting.

In Nairobi, Githu said: “The Constitution has set up independent institutions that deal with what is to happen when there is a violation. We have an independent National Police Service, an independent Directorate of Public Prosecutions and independent courts. These institutions will do what they are mandated to do if and when the time is right.”

At the same time, during the meeting, the AG blasted some opposition politicians and lawyers whom he said have been misleading Kenyans on facts about the treason law, terming them, “most ignorant, uninformed and mischievous”.

He insisted that Raila would commit high treason if he purports to be sworn in as president and warned leaders against misinforming Kenyans on the matter. Githu stated that lawyer-politicians and political commentators are the two main groups responsible for misguiding Kenyans on basic laws.

While some of the politicians dismissed the concept of “high treason” saying it does not exist in the Constitution, Githu explained that Section 40 of the Penal Code declares high treason as “the overthrow of the legitimate government of the day”. “Some politicians can never seem to shut their mouths on issues that they have no idea about.

A man sitting in the Senate saying that there is nothing as treason law, but colonial law, shows the kind of ignorance that they dwell in,” said Githu. Further, he said Section 40 and 42 of the Constitution have always remained intact, have never been changed and were never changed by the new Constitution hence essence of the treason law being to protect the constitutional order.

Calling on young paralegals in attendance at the launch to uphold the law for the future of the country, the AG said there is need to improve the quality of public discourse, noting, “it has deteriorated exceedingly in the last couple of years especially on issues of constitution, human rights, sovereignty and integrity”.

“We owe the public the duty of care. We need to stop these reckless individuals from misinforming the public,” said the AG. This comes a day after Raila spoke in Kwale and vowed he would still be sworn in as the people’s president, while jeering at President Uhuru Kenyatta’s caution that anyone who challenges the Constitution and peace of the nation would face the full wrath of the law.

Political and legal commentators have been giving varied interpretations of the Constitution concerning the Opposition leader’s resolve to be sworn-in as the president but Githu has maintained such a move would be outside the Constitution because Kenya already has a sitting President who was inaugurated on November 28.

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