Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga [Guardian profile; JURIST news archive] said on Saturday that his country's president violated its new constitution [text, PDF] when he made a series of judicial, financial and legal appointments without consulting him. President Mwai Kibaki [official profile; JURIST news archive] announced on Friday the appointments of chief justice, top prosecutor, attorney general and budget chief. The appointments were made in an effort to increase public confidence [Reuters report] in the judiciary and to pave the way for the possible prosecution of suspects accused of 2007 post-election violence. According to Odinga, the country's new constitution, which was created as part of a power-sharing agreement [JURIST report] reached in 2009 following months of civil unrest, requires presidential appointments to be approved by the prime minister. Odinga indicated that the situation was a major setback to reform [AFP report] that could lead to a legal crisis. He has threatened to block the appointments in court if they are not withdrawn.
Kenya ratified its new constitution [JURIST report] in August, as part of a reform movement aimed at curbing vast presidential powers. Kenya's new constitution includes numerous checks on presidential authority, among which are the creation of a supreme court and senate. The new constitution was approved by popular referendum, which took place amid concerns that high turnout and heated debate over the referendum could cause a repeat of the violence seen during the country's presidential election [JURIST reports] in 2007. The government is now expected to start implementing the new constitution, which could take as long as five years. This document has been received as one of the most significant events in Kenya since its independence.