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Martha Koome sworn in as new Chief Justice of Kenya

Martha Koome has been sworn in as the new Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya at the state house in Nairobi County.

Koome was sworn in as the country’s Chief Justice at around 1pm on Friday, May 21, 2021 at State House, Nairobi.

Her swearing in ceremony was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Koome becomes the first female Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya and the head of the Judiciary.

She replaces former Chief Justice David Maraga who retired in the year 2020.

Maraga made history during his tenure when it annulled 2017 Presidential election citing ‘illegalities and irregularities’ and ordered for a fresh election.

President 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.

The 61 years old has had a distinguished career with more than 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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    Written by Kennedy Omondi

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