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Five new judges for Kenya judiciary

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – One-time Nairobi Chief Magistrate Aggrey Muchelule was finally appointed a judge of the High Court on Thursday, alongside Florence Muchemi and Abida Aroni following an aborted swearing in ceremony two years ago.

President Mwai Kibaki also appointed Maureen Odero and Said Chitembwe as judges.

High Court judges Joseph Nyamu and Alnashir Visram were elevated to the Court of Appeal and sworn-in at a ceremony held at State House Nairobi.

After they took the oath of office, President Kibaki asked the judges to strictly adhere to the rule of law when discharging their duties.

The judges have said they would uphold the rule of law and serve Kenyans without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

The appointment of Muchelule, Aroni and Muchemi was shrouded in controversy in 2006 when they  were turned away from State House, barely minutes into their swearing in ceremony.

Recently, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru spoke about the failed swearing in, attributing it to alleged interference by a Cabinet Minister.  At the time, he did not name the specific minister, but he has been at loggerheads with Justice Minister Martha Karua over management of affairs in the Judiciary.

Reports from State House did not indicate if Ms Karua was present at State House during the successful swearing in.

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Ms Karua had travelled to Geneva Switzerland for talks hosted by former UN chief Kofi Annan and was expected to have returned to Kenya on Wednesday evening with other members of the Kenyan delegation.

At the time of the cancellation of the swearing in two years ago, reports suggested that it was put off because certain quarters had not been consulted, but the CJ saw this as interference from the Executive.

Justice Muchelule holds a Masters degree in law from the University of Nairobi.

Ms Muchemi served as a principal magistrate in Mombasa before moving to the tribunal on environment.  On her part, Ms Aroni was the chairperson of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission before its disbandment.

The Chief Justice has been under pressure to from the Law Society of Kenya and Ms Karua over his reported failure to effectively manage judicial affairs.

But the CJ has recently received support from a group of lawyers led by Gibson Kamau Kuria and Kibe Mungai, who say they are not party to the position taken by the LSK.

Justice Gicheru has since indicated that will not resign.  He can only be removed from office after the appointment of a Tribunal by the President to investigate his conduct.

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