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Mutunga, Baraza for CJ and deputy

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has nominated Dr Willy Mutunga as the next Chief Justice of Kenya and Nancy Baraza as deputy Chief Justice.

The announcement was made on Friday afternoon by JSC acting Chairperson Prof Christine Mango.

"In these two candidates, the Commission has seen the attributes and the vision we were looking for when we started the interview process. They are a man and a woman we can trust the Judiciary with," she said.

"We were looking for candidates who will lead by example the Judiciary as the third arm of government; Persons of great depth of legal and constitutional leaning, whose integrity is both impeccable and beyond reproach, who have a record of independence," said Prof Mango.

Dr Mutunga, who holds a PhD in law, is a former chairman of the Law Society, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and once taught at the Kenya Law School. He is well known as a vocal champion for reforms in the country and was a leading light in the clamour for constitutional reforms.

Ms Baraza who has practiced law for over 30 years is presently pursuing a PhD degree.

"She is the Vice Chairperson of the Kenya Law Reform Commission and a former Chair of FIDA (Kenya)," said the JSC.

The two names will be handed over to President Mwai Kibaki, who in consultation with Prime Minister Raila Odinga will then forward them to Parliament for approval.  If cleared, the names will be taken back to the Head of State who will then announce the next Chief Justice and the deputy.

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According to Section 166 (1) of the Constitution, "The President shall appoint the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice, in accordance with the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, and subject to the approval of the National Assembly."

The journey of recruiting the new Chief Justice will find its way to Kenya\’s history books because it is the first time that the position will be filled competitively through tough public interviews.

The interviews became a reality after Parliament, the civil society and a section of the public opposed President Kibaki\’s nomination of Justice Alnashir Visram on January 28.

The first dissenting voice had been that of Prime Minister Raila Odinga who had claimed that the President announced the nominees without conclusive consultations with him as required by law.

The President had also nominated Prof Githu Muigai for Attorney General and lawyer Kioko Kilukumi as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

After a month-long political stand-off, President Kibaki withdrew the nominations and set the pace for the advertisement of the jobs by the Judicial Service Commission (for Chief Justice and Deputy) and a specially-constituted panel (for DPP).

Twenty six persons applied for the position of Chief Justice and Deputy.  Ten were shortlisted and interviewed for the CJ\’s post, while six were interviewed for the deputy\’s position.

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