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L-R: The ten candidates cleared for interviews are Justice Said Chitembwe, Prof. Patricia Mbote, Justice Martha Koome, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Prof. Wekesa Moni and Alice Yano/CFM

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One of them will be Kenya’s next Chief Justice

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 12 – The search for Kenya’s new Chief Justice to replace David Maraga who retired in January 2021 officially kicks off Monday.

A nine member committee of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) chaired by Commissioner Olive Mugenda will conduct the hearings that will see ten candidates interviewed for the position of Chief Justice and nine others for the position of Supreme Court Judge.

“We have undertaken all the arrangements to make sure that when we begin on Monday, we are ready,” Secretary to Commission and Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi told a news conference on Sunday ahead of the scheduled interviews which will end in April 23, 2021.

Maraga, whose tenure in office had been characterised bypersistent feuds with the Executive after he annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential victory in 2017, exited office on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Maraga handed over the instruments of power to Mwilu who is holding the position on an acting basis until a substantive Chief Justice is appointed.

Justice Chitembwe Said Juma who is seeking to succeed Maraga will be the first to be grilled by the interviewing panel which will have to strike a balancing act while factoring in the issues of gender, age, experience and regional balance, key elements that will determine who will form the next bench.

Other candidates to be interviewed for the position of Chief Justice include Justice Martha Koome, Justice M’inoti Kathurima, Justice Nduma Nderi, Lumumba Nyaberi, Justice William Ouko, Justice Joseph Sergon and Alice Yano.

The new Chief Justice will be Kenya’s 15 and third under the 2010 Constitution.

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The interviews for the position of Supreme Court Judge are scheduled to begin in April 26, 2021.

Those shortlisted candidates for the Supreme Court judge position include Justice Said Chitembwe, Justice Martha Koome, Justice M’inoti Kathurima, Justice Nduma Nderi, Lumumba Nyaberi, Justice William Ouko, Justice Joseph Sergon and Alice Yano.

The position of the Supreme Court Judge was left vacant following the retirement of Justice Jackton Ojwang who retired in February 2020.

Two candidates will be appearing before the commission each day, with one to be interviewed in the morning and another in the afternoon.

The Commission will interview the shortlisted persons before recommending a candidate for appointment by the President subject to approval by the National Assembly as provided for under Article 166 (1) of the Constitution.

Article 167 (2) caps the tenure of Chief Justice at ten years but the holder of the office is required to exit office regardless on attaining the mandatory retirement age outlined in Article 167 (1).

The Chief Justice is the head of the Judiciary, the President of the Supreme Court and also serves as the chairperson of the JSC  

The JSC Act stipulates that the process of recruiting a Chief Justice should be conducted transparently.

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