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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Kenyan courts paralysed by strike
Demonstrating lawyers
Kenyan courts have been accused of corruption

Kenya's court system has ground to a halt.

Courts across the country have been paralysed after lawyers went on an unprecedented one-day strike.


Why bother hiring a lawyer when you can buy a judge?

Lawyers' placard
Hundreds of lawyers marched through the streets of Nairobi waving banners, and sporting yellow ribbons of protest.

In downtown Nairobi, a large crowd gathered.

It was a protest unlike any other.

Many had on their long advocates' robes, one or two wore their grey legal wigs.

They waved placards emblazoned with the slogan: "Why Bother Hiring a Lawyer When You Can Buy a Judge?"

The lawyers are protesting against legal moves to prevent constitutional reform of the judiciary.

A new draft constitution recommended sweeping changes, including early retirement, and a tribunal to hear cases of judicial corruption.

Constitutional collapse

Not surprisingly, the proposals have not gone down well with the judges.

Two of them have lodged a suit to block the changes.

But most Kenyans support the reforms, believing their judges to be corrupt and open to bribes.

The new draft constitution has been drawn up after months of painstaking public consultation.

If the judges succeed in their case, the fear is that the entire constitutional review process will collapse.

As the lawyers marched through the streets, members of the public shouted out: "Keep up the good work".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Wanyama Chebusiri reports on Focus on Africa
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See also:

16 Aug 01 | Africa
11 Oct 99 | Africa
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