Kenya PM blasts judges for barring Islamic courts from constitution

May 29, 2010
kenya doves

President Mwai Kibaki (C), Prime Minister Raila Odinga (L) and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka (R) release pigeons for peace at a Nairobi rally for the constitution referendum on May 15, 2010/Thomas Mukoya

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has attacked the country’s judiciary as an obstacle to reform after its high court  ruled it would be discriminatory to entrench kadhi courts — Islamic courts that rule on the basis of sharia — in Kenya’s constitution. The ruling came three months before Kenyans vote in a referendum on a proposed new constitution, seen as an important step towards ensuring that post-election violence which shook east Africa’s largest economy in 2008 is not repeated.

Opposition to the Muslim courts brought together Christian clergy and some politicians to oppose the proposed constitution. The kadhis’ courts deal with matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance among Muslims.

A three-judge panel of the high court said religious courts should not be enshrined in the constitution because it ran counter to the principle of separation of state and religion.

Read the full story here.

Kenya’s population is about 45% Protestant, 33% Roman Catholic and 10% Muslim, the rest following indigenous faiths or other beliefs. The referendum has heightened differences between Kenya’s Muslims and its Christian churches, which have criticised the draft constitution for including the Islamic courts and allowing abortion in certain circumstances.

Here are some related reports from Kenyan media:

Church lawyers say Muslims to blame for kadhi rulingDaily Nation, 27 May 2010

Kenya churches urge implementation of kadhi rulingDaily Nation, 25 May 2010

Kenya Muslims condemn ruling — Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 25 May 2010

Kenyan Muslims irked by Kadhis Courts ruling — Capital FM, 25 May 2010

Kenyan Churches back Kadhis Courts ruling — Capital FM, 24 May 2010

Kadhi courts case was filed in 2004Daily Nation, 24 May 2010

Kadhi courts illegal, judges ruleDaily Nation, 24 May 2010

In the kadhi’s court, wheels of justice grind on ever so steadilyDaily Nation, 15 May 2010

Kenyan Catholics roll out No campaign — Capital FM, 11 May 2010

US dollars fuelling Church campaignDaily Nation, 1 May 2010

Anglican Church rejects draft law — Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 29 April 2010

Kenya Muslim leaders back draft law — Capital FM, 10 April 2010

No let-up in kadhi courts row — Daily Nation, 5 Nov 2009

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