CJ Mutunga to meet Obama in Senegal

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY STAR REPORTER

CHIEF Justice Willy Mutunga is among the African supreme court judges scheduled to meet with US President Barrack Obama this morning.

Justice Mutunga will meet President Obama in Dakar, Senegal to discuss the role of judiciary in democratization.

The judiciary confirmed Mutunga’s trip to the West in a press statement sent to newsrooms yesterday.

The statement said the US embassy had “offered to meet the costs of the trip.”

“The invitation to the meeting was relayed through the US embassy in Nairobi and signed by Ambassador Robert F. Godec,” said the Office of the Chief Justice said.

The meeting will be attended by 11 other chief justices from Africa.

Former Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara immediately condemned the meeting with Mutunga as hypocritical.

Imanyara said it was hypocritical for Obama to meet the CJ “and not meet President Uhuru Kenyatta whose election was confirmed by the Mutunga-led Supreme Court.”

“As a matter of patriotic pride our CJ should politely turn down the invitation to meet President Obama in Senegal. I doubt if Chief Justice Roberts of US would accept to meet the Kenyan President under similar circumstances,” Imanyara tweeted.

Imanyara said Obama ought to skip Kenya “with all what that entails."

“Our judiciary must guard against being perceived as a tool of American-led West. Its independence is its legitimizing strength,” he added.

Article 160 (1) of the constitution says the judiciary "shall not be subject to the control or direction of any person or authority.”

As the head of the judiciary, Mutunga regularly receives invitations to functions.

In July last year, Mutunga turned down an invitation by former ODM Coalition advisor Miguna Miguna to launch his controversial book “Peeling Back the Mask”.

In May, Mutunga was in the US “as part of continuing engagement with other jurisdictions to draw lessons.”

He met members of the Supreme Court and Chief Judge Lippman of Circuit of Appeals.

Obama’s African tour is meant to emphasize the potential for economic and democratic development in sub Saharan Africa.

His first stop will be in Senegal where he will meet President Macky Sall and visit Goree Island.

He will then go to Johannesburg in South Africa on Sunday, June 30 and hold talks and a press conference with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria the next day.

Obama will stay overnight in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and plans to visit Robben Island where Mandela was once imprisoned.

The final leg of Obama’s journey will take him to Tanzania, where his program includes talks and a press conference with President Jakaya Kikwete and a visit to the Ubungo power plant.