Kenya gets new Chief Justice - Daily Nation

Kenya gets new Chief Justice

Thursday June 16 2011

Kenya has a new Chief Justice following the appointment of Willy Mutunga who was approved for the position by Parliament June 16, 2011. FILE

Kenya has a new Chief Justice following the appointment of Willy Mutunga who was approved for the position by Parliament June 16, 2011. FILE 

By ANTHONY KARIUKI

Kenya has a new Chief Justice following the appointment of Willy Mutunga who was approved for the position by Parliament Wednesday.

In a gazette notice, President Kibaki also appointed his deputy Nancy Baraza and the Keriako Tobiko as the Director of Public Prosecutions.

This means that the three could assume office as early as next week.

Their swearing in ceremony in scheduled for Monday at State House, Nairobi.

Earlier Thursday, Dr Mutunga said that his pressing challenge would be to reform the Judiciary and assured Kenyans he would restore their faith in the institution.

"Obviously, my greatest challenge will be to manage the astronomical expectations of a Kenyan people who long lost their faith in their judiciary but now believe I wave a magic wand," said Dr Mutunga, who will be the first CJ under the new constitutional dispensation.

"This is an issue I must address the moment I have taken the Oath of Office of the Chief Justice under the new constitution. I look forward to talking to Kenyans immediately I am sworn in."

He will be the head of a seven-bench Supreme Court as its President with Ms Baraza as Vice President.

The Court will be charged with the interpretation of the Constitution and will have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and determine disputes relating to the elections to the Office of the President.

The Supreme Court shall also hear and determine appeals from the Court of Appeal and any other court or tribunal as prescribed by national legislation.

Other Supreme Court judges include: Justice Philip Tunoi, Justice Jackton Ojwang, Justice Mohammed Ibrahim, Ms Njoki Ndungu and Dr Smokin Wanjala.

They were appointed to the Court Thursday after their nomination by the Judicial Service Commission, which interviewed 25 applicants.

President Kibaki's move has pre-empted a case filed by two lobby groups, which wanted Mr Tobiko's appointment put on hold.

The Kenya Youth Parliament, Kenya Youth League and a Mr Patrick Njuguna want the High Court to stop the appointment until allegations touching on Mr Tobiko’s competence and integrity are fully investigated.

In a petition, filed Thursday morning, the the three applicants are also seeking a declaration that Mr Tobiko’s nomination breached Constitutional provisions on integrity, leadership, competence and impartiality of a public officer.

With Dr Mutunga's appointment the office of Chief Justice will have a new occupant. It has been vacant since February 27 when his predecessor Justice Evan Gicheru left office after his term expired under the new Constitution.