Nairobi. Kenya has sworn-in its first female chief Justice, the country’s State State House, Nairobi said on Friday.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta today at State House, Nairobi witnessed the swearing-in of Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome as the new Chief Justice of Kenya and President of the Supreme Court, and Justice William Okello Ouko as a Supreme Court judge,” State House said on Twitter.
Koome, 61 is the country’s first female Chief Justice and head of the Judiciary, replacing David Maraga, who made history by leading the Supreme Court when it annulled Kenyatta’s 2017 reelection victory citing ‘illegalities and irregularities’ and ordering a fresh election.
Before that historic decision, it was unprecedented in Africa for an opposition party to succeed in getting a court decision to overturn a president’s election. Kenyatta won the second election after the opposition boycotted participation, saying the electoral authority had not implemented adequate reforms to ensure free and fair polls.
Koome won the chief justice position over nine other candidates, including some of the country’s most prominent lawyers and academics. The candidates were interviewed live on TV by the Judicial Service Commission in April.
Koome comes with 33 years in private legal practice and as a member of the judiciary.
Her appointment has not been without controversy. One of the candidates, lawyer Fred Ngatia, cast aspersions on how the commission members chose Koome, saying the process had been rigged. Makau Mutua, a Kenyan law professor working in the U.S., is seeking orders to compel the judicial commission to release the results of each candidate in order to give the selection process legitimacy.
None of the sitting Supreme Court judges applied for the position of chief justice, raising speculation that they were afraid to take up the mantle due to the pressure that Maraga received following the annulment of Kenyatta’s reelection. Maraga said he received death threats following the Supreme Court’s 4-2 decision against Kenyatta.
The Supreme Court judges failed to make a decision over an opposition petition to stop the fresh election after unknown assailants shot and seriously wounded the police officer who was the driver for the deputy chief justice the previous day.
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