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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Appeals court frees doctors' union officials, talks to resume

Judges Wanjiru Karanja and Jamilla Mohamed during the hearing of an appeal against the ruling that jailed striking doctors' union officials for two months, February 15, 2017. /COLLINS KWEYU
Judges Wanjiru Karanja and Jamilla Mohamed during the hearing of an appeal against the ruling that jailed striking doctors' union officials for two months, February 15, 2017. /COLLINS KWEYU

A Court of Appeal has ruled that seven doctors jailed on Monday should be released from prison with immediate effect.

Judges Wanjiru Karanja, Hannah Okwengu and Jamilla Mohamed said negotiations will take place over seven days and that they will return to court on February 23.

The talks are to come up with a report aimed at calling off the strike that has lasted more than two months and that private doctors had joined.

The Kenya National Human Rights Commission will lead the negotiations. The Council of Governors has also agreed to take part in the talks alongside KMPDU officials.

Officials set for release are chairman Samuel Oroko, secretary general Ouma Oluga, treasurer Daisy Korir, deputy treasurer Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro.

Cord leader Raila Odinga earlier accompanied lawyers to the Supreme Court to appeal the ruling that jailed the union officials.

Oluga and six others were handcuffed and taken to various prisons on Monday to serve their month-long sentence.

More on this: Shaved prisoner Oluga receives guests as doctors' jail term begins

Raila said this was "horrifying and disturbing" and promised his lawyers would take action, where he said the Jubilee government had failed.

He and other Opposition leaders were seen in court today ready to hear the appeal by lawyer James Orengo, who is Siaya Senator.

Cord leader Raila Odinga (r) at the Supreme Court for his lawyer's appeal against a ruling that jailed striking doctors' union officials for two months, February 15, 2017. /COLLINS KWEYU

Doctors chanted outside the court, sand and dance as the proceedings went on.

Health workers, who have been on strike from about 73 days now, have always turned up for proceedings, sang and danced in shows of support for their colleagues.

"Tuko tayari, Mailu akija sote tuko tayari," they were heard saying today. (We are ready, when Health CS Cleopa Mailu comes...we are all ready).

The mocked the Cabinet Secretary and sang songs indicating that he was their enemy.

"Akija mbele yako, kanyaga, kanyaga...sote tuko tayari," they continued singing in Kiswahili.

(When he comes in front of you, step on him. We are all ready).

[VIDEO] Doctors' union officials jailed one month for contempt of court

Doctors wait outside the Supreme Court where Cord leader Raila Odinga and his team of lawyers went to appeal a ruling that jailed union officials for one month, February 15, 2017. /COURTESY

Mailu told the Senate Health committee on Tuesday that he could get doctors back on the negotiating table and that he ensure the crisis ends.

He also said he will do anything possible to ensure doctors' union officials are released from prison.

The CS accused Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri of insubordination saying he refused to take part in the talks.

Read: Mailu accuses Muraguri of insubordination during talks to end doctors' strike

The 5,000-member doctors' union wants the government to implement a deal agreed in 2013 to raise basic salaries by 150 to 180 percent.

They want a review of working conditions, job structures and criteria for promotions, and address under-staffing in state hospitals.

Doctors are demanding a 300 per cent increase in their salaries and improved working conditions in line with their 2013 CBA.

Read: Inside the striking doctors’ 2013 collective bargaining agreement

Read: Oluga explains 'unfortunate' 65-day doctors' strike to Senate

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