Criteria for hiring new CJ due Saturday

February 25, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25 – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will on Saturday issue guidelines on how the country\’s next Chief Justice and the deputy CJ will be hired.

A member of the JSC, Ahmednasir Abdullahi, told journalists on Friday that the Commission – which has retreated to a city hotel for a workshop – may take about one month to identify the most suitable candidates.

"Since the President and the Prime Minister have agreed that the JSC will do the recruitment, that is a process that can be done very quickly," he said.

Mr Abdullahi assured that by the end of its meeting on Saturday, there would be a clear timelines for the process.

"I am sure by the end of this workshop the Commission will communicate to Kenyans how it will deal with these issues," added the Law Society of Kenya nominee to the JSC.

President Mwai Kibaki tasked the Commission with the process of identifying the next CJ to replace Evan Gicheru whose term expires this Sunday as stipulated in the new Constitution.

The President had earlier nominated Court of Appeal Judge Alnashir Visram as the Chief Justice alongside lawyers Githu Muigai and Kioko Kilukumi as Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions respectively.

He had also nominated William Kirwa for Controller of Budget but the candidates were opposed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga claiming he was not consulted. Women organisations also opposed them on the basis of gender disparity.

There have been fears that there will be a vacuum when Justice Gicheru retires and some have even proposed the appointment of an acting CJ, but this proposal has been opposed by the JSC and the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution.

Mr Abdullahi said the Judiciary would run on the guidance of the JSC and the two principal judges of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

"These judges will continue running their respective courts in terms of assignment of cases and who will sit in what court. Again, you need to appreciate that under the new Constitution most of the responsibilities of the CJ have now been assigned to the Commission in terms of employment, discipline and transfers," said the lawyer.

In its retreat, the Commission will also elect a vice chairperson who will take charge of the Commission in the interim before a new CJ who is the commission\’s chairman is recruited.

Speaking on the sidelines of the retreat, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo said the post of Attorney General should be advertised.

Mr Kilonzo said the recruitment process of the Chief Government Legal Advisor should be open to public participation as the new AG now represents the public and not just the Executive.

He backed calls by some women organisations that had challenged earlier judicial nominations by the President who want equal participation for all.

"Judicial authority and sovereignty now rests with the public. Even when the AG is giving legal advice it is done on behalf of the public not just to the two Principals or any government department," he said.

The Minister has in the meantime dismissed as selfish, plans by the Party of National Unity to replace Amos Wako on the basis that he disagreed with the President on the recent controversial nominations.

"They are forgetting that the Attorney General does not give his personal point of view. He is supposed to give the public point of view as reflected in the law," he said.

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