Kenyan supreme court takes shape

Judicial reform in Kenya made another big leap with the appointment of five individuals to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. Njoki Ndungu, Jackton Ojuang, Smokin Wanjala, Mohammed Ibrahim and Phillip Tunoi will join the Chief Justice, William Mutunga, and his assistant Nancy Baraza on the court.

Mutunga and Baraza will champion liberal views on the court – the Church and other conservative elements in Kenyan society unsuccessfully fought against their nomination to lead the Supreme Court. Messrs Tunoi and Ojuang will represent conservative views. Ndungu, Wanjala and Ibrahim are believed to be centrists.

The Supreme Court will provide the final word on constitutional matters as well as petitions involving presidential elections.

Although one can’t dismiss the possibility of political jockeying behind the scenes, the nomination of all seven justices was a coup for Kenya’s civil society. The Judicial Service Commission sought a clean break with Kenya’s muddy judicial history. None of the high-flying judges from the Moi and Kibaki eras got a nod to join the court.

Because this is Kenya, the JSC also made sure that the seven nominees reflected ethnic and regional balance. The ethnic balance in the nominations will ensure that parliament approves them.

Overall the court appears to have a progressive leaning. This is good for Kenya.

In related news, the Kenyan parliament also approved the nomination of Keriako Tobiko to be the director of public prosecutions. Mr. Tobiko’s nomination was not without controversy, with civil society groups and a section of MPs accusing him of corruption and incompetence. In the end his nomination passed through.

The next big battle over judicial reforms will be over the appointment of the Attorney General.

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2 thoughts on “Kenyan supreme court takes shape

  1. We voted for change in the new constitution. Thing is….most people never saw this coming.They thought it would be business as usual….how wrong they were. With the appointment of Mutunga, Baraza and other Supreme Court Judges…..we are seeing the completion of the second liberation that was hijacked by the old guard.
    In all this……one person will stand out for setting the tone of future public vetting……. Ahmednassir Abdullahi. This man has played a big role in demystifying the CJ,DCJ and other judicial staff. He broke barriers and his mode of questioning has now become acceptable.

    Indeed, we are living in exceptional times now.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Kenya awaits Supreme Court verdict « Opalo's weblog

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