Law Society of Kenya ought to put its house in order
A number of Kenya’s leading political reform voices honed their skills at the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
Though a professional lobby for lawyers, LSK turned itself into a progressive and relentless agitator for greater freedoms during the Kanu-era dictatorship.
Despite threats to their lives, arrests, torture and detentions without trial, top lawyers stood out to resist erosion of the rule of law; agitate for constitutional reforms and democracy.
Some were humiliated while others fled into exile for speaking the truth to power.
The leaders had the single purpose of liberating the country from the stranglehold of dictatorship.
They sacrificed careers, families and the comfort that comes with their profession.
They took to the trenches and much of what we enjoy as freedoms today is courtesy of their sacrifices.
This endeared the Society to Kenyans who saw it as a patriotic agitator and force of public good.
That is why we are concerned at what appears to be degeneration at LSK, which has been hit by leadership wrangles.
Though there have been similar challenges in other facets of society - including trade unions and civil society - the lawyers’ lobby has been on a free fall.
There has been an ugly tussle over the office of the chief executive. While the LSK president maintains the current holder was fired, a section of the society’s council maintains the official was in office legally.
The fate of an individual recruited to replace the official remains unclear.
Kenyans have a reason to worry because the law requires the society’s representation in key decision-making bodies including recruitment panels of top state officers.
It is more disturbing that the lobby is deeply divided at a time the country is engaged in an emotive reforms debate and electoral conversations in which they are expected to give intellectual guidance.
We are aware of efforts by senior lawyers to arbitrate the conflict in vain.
History books are replete with progressive institutions that failed to exercise their public mandate and faded into ignominy because of such wrangles. It will be unfortunate for the LSK to join this dubious list.
We are calling on the veteran leaders of the profession, particularly members of the Senior Counsel Bar, to intervene and resolve the standoff that threatens to stain the otherwise respectable lobby.
The Society should live true to its core values; rule of law and administration of justice, democracy and good governance.