In a significant development, the High Court has temporarily halted the operations of the Shakahola Commission for a period of seven days.

The suspension comes as the court prepares to issue a comprehensive ruling next week.

The establishment of the Commission of Inquiry, tasked with investigating the killings in the Shakahola Forest, has been put on hold pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition party.

Led by opposition leader Raila Odinga, the Azimio coalition took legal action to prevent the commission from commencing its sittings.

Their lawsuit alleges that the appointment of the eight-member team by President William Ruto is not only illegal but also an encroachment on the powers bestowed upon other state organs by the Constitution.

Justice Lawrence Mugambi, presiding over the case, ruled in favour of the Azimio coalition's request and issued a directive prohibiting the gathering of evidence to establish the cause of the killings in Shakahola.

This decision effectively suspends the commission's proceedings until a comprehensive ruling is delivered next week.

According to the Azimio coalition, Ruto's appointment undermines the authority of the National Police Service (NPS), which is constitutionally mandated to conduct investigations.

Ruto is also accused of disregarding the role and command of Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome, who is not only entrusted with carrying out investigations but is also prohibited from taking orders regarding whom to investigate.

Moreover, the coalition contends that the appointment by Ruto undermines the constitutional mandate and authority of various institutions and state organs. 

On May 4, 2023, Ruto appointed the commission, with Court of Appeal Judge Jessie Lesiit designated as the chairperson.

The primary objective of the commission was to investigate allegations of deaths, torture, and inhuman treatment linked to the Good News International Church in Kilifi, which is connected to Pastor Paul Mackenzie.

The High Court's decision to suspend the Shakahola Commission's operations temporarily highlights the ongoing legal battle surrounding its establishment.

The court will issue its verdict next week with further details on the legality of the commission.