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Candidates likely to succeed CJ Willy Mutunga as he retires

By Luke Anami | June 14th 2016
CJ Willy Mutunga. PHOTO: FILE

A number of names have been floated as potential successors of  Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

At the same time,  the Judicial Service Commission says the Supreme Court should reflect the face of Kenya.

JSC Vice Chairperson Margaret Kobia said they will explore and consider the requirement of the Constitution on the need to have a CJ and composition of a Supreme Court that reflects the face of Kenya.

This follows Dr Mutunga choice to retire on Thursday, at a time a verdict to determine the age at which Justice Kalpana Rawal and Justice Philip Tunoi should retire is about to be delivered.

“The process of recruiting a CJ is a long and vigorous one as set out in the Constitution and we are prepared to ensure the process is followed to the letter,” Prof Kobia said.

The possible successors include Justice Kihara Kariuki, who is the current president of the Court of Appeal, which is the second highest court after the Supreme Court, Justice Msagha Mbogholi, Attorney General Githu Muigai, Justice Njoki Ndung’u, Justice David Maraga and Prof Makau Mutua.


“Some of us think Justice Isaac Leneola would make a good CJ,” lawyer Nelson Havi suggested. “Even Makau Mutua would be a good choice.”

Talks on who will succeed Mutunga have gained momentum ahead of his retirement on Thursday.

Two other judges viewed as possible replacements are justices Smokin Wanjala (Supreme Court) and Philip Waki.

CORD’s co-principal Moses Wetang’ula says the successor to Mutunga should be appointed in a manner that should ensure the heads of the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary do not come from the same region.

With the presumption that the deputy of Mutunga’s successor must be female, those seen as frontrunners include Court of Appeal judges Agnes Murgor, Martha Koome, Hannah Okwengu and Wanjiru Karanja.

The JSC, while announcing the procedures for the recruitment of the next CJ, clarified that the position will be open to serving and non-serving members of the Judiciary.

Mutunga said he had opted to retire early, citing the need to take up the transformation process across East Africa.

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