Raila, Karua: We will push legal changes to speed up graft trials

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga with his running mate Martha Karua.

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua have said they will push for legal amendments to speed up corruption cases.

The two pointed to winding court processes as an Achilles’ heel in the fight against corruption.

Speaking during a virtual diaspora rally on Sunday evening, Ms Karua said the Azimio government would look into enacting a law to expedite the hearing of graft cases to reduce backlogs.

“We need cases decided in real time and culprits sent to jail and the innocent returning to work. We will do certain necessary interventions to aid us in the war against corruption,” Ms Karua said.

“If need be, we will have legal amendments to ensure there is a speedy trials Act so that we stop the circus of corruption cases staying in our courts years upon years.”

Ms Karua’s remarks followed concerns raised by Kenyans in the diaspora, who cited corruption as a major stumbling block to meaningful development and urged speedy trials of corruption suspects.

The Narc Kenya party leader said they would work hand in hand with law enforcement and investigative agencies and the criminal justice system to have consistency in the fight against corruption.

Ms Karua also urged Kenyans to support the fight against corruption.

“In the fight against graft, we are going to need the support of the public. There cannot be a successful fight against corruption when it is as pervasive as it is in Kenya, without public support,” she said.

She cited a similar campaign in 2002 during the early days of the Mwai Kibaki administration, saying it made progress because the public joined hands with the government.

“In 2002, the fight by the Narc government was aided by the public. You recall police officers being forced to return bribes by the public and the public choosing to walk rather than let matatus disobey Michuki rules. KICC was recovered by the public and returned to the government,” Ms Karua said.

The former justice and constitutional Affairs minister said she and Mr Odinga are committed to fighting graft.

“Public confidence is brought by the utterances and body language of those in power. I want to commit that my principal and I are committed to the fight against corruption and we will demonstrate that commitment to inspire the public to rise up and support this fight,” she said.

Meanwhile, the diaspora community – with 10,433 registered voters – also appealed for a partnership between them and the Kenyan government, exploitation of the blue economy and appointment to government positions.

Reacting to the concerns, Mr Odinga said the government would set up another port in Shimoni, Kwale County, and revive formerly active ones, especially on Lake Victoria.

He also said relevant institutions are being bolstered, such as Bandari College, which now has a faculty dealing with the blue economy, and the opening of a marine institute training seafarers in Kisumu.

Regarding the appointment of diasporans to the government, the ODM party leader admitted that diplomatic appointments have become too politicised, saying nearly 50 percent of the people picked to represent Kenya abroad are non-professionals or political appointees.

This, he said, has demoralised professional diplomats as they are bypassed and most appointments come from outside the diplomatic field.

“We are going to strike a balance to allow for a certain percentage of our diplomats to be from outside the civil service but the bulk of them to be career diplomats who are people who have trained in that line of diplomacy,” Mr Odinga said.

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