The Appeal Court has granted the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Law Society of Kenya seven more days to bring the 81-day healthcare crisis to an end.
The mediators through lawyers James Orengo and Orao Obura reported that progress had been made on a number of issues surrounding the healthcare crisis, but asked for the seven days to resolve what remains contentious.
Orao Obura told the court;
”We have managed to reach a consensus on a number of issues. There are still some pending issues which the mediators would like to lead the parties on and that being the case, the mediators were requesting with the leave of the court if they can have seven more days so that we can wrap this whole issue up.”
While the Council of Governors and the Government did not oppose the application, they expressed different views on how much more time should be given to the alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
”A number of diagnoses have been made for what is really ailing the doctors and the former CJ (Willy Mutunga) would be happy to note that we’ve taken a whole range of what he suggested in March 2015: negotiations, mediations, they’ve been prayers even in a church and probably the only thing that wasn’t done is witchcraft which is what he had also proposed. But we know that probably what the problem may be a viral infection which may need to run its full course,” lawyer Eunice Lumallas opined.
The Council of Governors argued that two days were sufficient, while the National Government was of the opinion that three days were sufficient and if no resolution on the healthcare crisis was reached at that stage, the matter should be decided by the courts.
The Court of Appeal judges while noting that the issue before them was literally life or death granted the mediators’ prayer for seven more days but with the provision that they were free to return to court with a progress report sooner.
”We are mindful of the fact that there is a lot of suffering being experienced in the public health sector and that there is the need for the outstanding issues to be resolved as soon as possible. It is, however, necessary to give the mediators adequate time,” Justice Hannah Okwengu ruled.
The doctors’ union officials who have been issued with a one-month jail term for contempt of court and was freed by the court of Appeal also attended today’s proceedings.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Law Society of Kenya are still leading the mediation.
The matter is expected to be mentioned in court on March 2, 2017.