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Learned friends shy away from DPP job

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Political intrigues surrounding the appointment of key judicial officers seems to be taking a toll on professionals, after the government announced that not a single person has applied for the position of Director of Public Prosecutions, a week to the deadline.

Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua on Tuesday made a passionate appeal to qualified Kenyans to send in their applications to speed up judicial reforms.

"It is unfortunate but so far the government has not received a single application to fill this position," Mr Mutua said. "The government urges qualified Kenyans to apply."

The President had earlier appointed city lawyer Kioko Kilukumi to the post but was forced to withdraw the name and called for competitive hiring after opposition from Prime Minister Raila Odinga and civil society activists who claimed proper procedures were ignored.

Also nominated then was Court of Appeal Judge Alnashir Visram for the post of Chief Justice, Prof Githu Muigai as Attorney General and William Kirwa for Director of Budget.

The nominations were reduced to a party affair with politicians from both Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement trading accusations over the procedure. A group of women’s organisations also filed a case in court to block the appointments.

In withdrawing the nominations, the President referred the recruitment of Chief Justice to the Judicial Service Commission and that of the DPP and Director of Budget to the Public Service Commission.

For the DPP’s job, the Head of State constituted a panel of officials from his office, that of the PM and the Attorney General or his representative to handle the process.

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The other members are a representative of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, two representatives of the Law Society of Kenya and a representative of Central Organisation of Trade Unions.

President Kibaki last week invited applications to the critical post and gave Kenyans two weeks to apply.

Applicants for the post of DPP must hold a law degree from a recognised university, or be an advocate of High Court of Kenya, with at least 10 years\’ experience as a superior court judge or professionally qualified magistrate; or similar experience as a distinguished academic or legal practitioner or such experience in other relevant legal field.

The person should have a high moral character, integrity and impartiality.

"This position is critical in the ongoing judicial reforms which are in keeping with the requirements of the new Constitution," said Mr Mutua when he made the appeal.

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