Mutunga, Baraza and Tobiko take up office
Dr. Willy Mutunga, Nancy Baraza and Keriako Tobiko have been sworn in as Kenya's new Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions respectively.

The swearing in celebration took place Monday morning at State House Nairobi and was presided over by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The Registrar of the High Court took the three top judicial officers through an oath of office, this time round breaking away from sweaing allegiance to the presidency but now to the people and Republic of Kenya as outlined by the new Constitution.

Mutunga's address

Dr. Willy Mutunga has since addressed Kenyans in his new capacity as Kenya's Chief Justice.

Mutunga saluted Kenyans for the sacrifices made in passing the new Constitution and ensuring the country works towards achieving reforms outlined by the new law.

"As a country, we now stand on a constitutional frontier from which we expect to put tyranny, oppression and exploitation, opacity and impunity on the back-foot, while making strides towards freedom, opportunity, and transparency," Mutunga said in his maiden speech as Kenya's Chief Justice.

The new Chief Justice added that the constitution has provided a chance for the reconstruction of the judiciary so as to earn public trust that was long lost in the key arm of government.

"I am aware that the Constitution places great hopes on us by giving us a rare chance for reconstruction. That the citizens of this country should place such honourable expectations upon an institution in which they have little faith is not lost to me," he said.

Mutunga promised to use his position to turn the judiciary into an institution of service to the people and ensure the judicial process is more accessible to Kenyans with rulings that quench the thirst for justice.

"The Judiciary must become an institution of service for the people. I am humbled by these expectations and will keep this humility in performing my obligations as Chief Justice," Mutunga further stated.

He however called on citizens to monitor and report any disparities in the judicial process, saying the only way to achieve the reforms necessary would be if the citizens were actively involved.

Mutunga said, "As citizens, we share the responsibility to monitor, report and ensure that the judiciary is accountable to all Kenyans. I invite Kenyans to hold us to these ideals."

His sentiments were supported by his deputy Nancy Baraza who said Kenyans must help in changing the face of the judiciary.

She promised to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Kenya in discharging her mandate as Kenya's Deputy Chief Justice.

Mutunga further called for the protection of separation of powers as outlined in the Constitution saying failure to uphold this will be an insult to the sacrifices Kenyans made to adopt a new constitution.

"The courts shall uphold and respect the legislative power to enact just laws, and acknowledge the executive arm's power of governance, subject only to the legal strictures but retain its power of review and defend its independence. Failure to observe and respect this constitutional design of separation of powers will not only imperil our nascent democracy but also be an unforgivable assault on the sacrifices and aspirations of the people of Kenya," the new CJ explained.

He noted that the country has diverse interests, pledging that he will look to ensure the judiciary strikes to live up to the constitutional values.

"Our duty is to weigh all these interests with the scale of the constitution and the law. In so doing, we shall strive to live up to the values enshrined in our constitution that bind us to uphold tolerance, non-discrimination and inclusivity. I give but the unreserved assurance that none get less than the Constitution and the laws of this country promise and bequeath to you," Mutunga promised.

He added that it was now upon him and his colleagues to ensure a strong judiciary full on confidence and respect by all Kenyans is realized.

Supreme Court Judges

However, the five nominees to the Supreme Court forwarded to the President by the Judicial Service Commission were not sworn into office as a High Court ruling last Friday barred them from participating in the swearing in process.

And CIC chair Charles Nyachae added his voice to the debate Monday, faulting the JSC's decision to nominate only one woman out of the five candidates reserved for nomination to the Supreme Court.

Nyachae termed the representation by only two women out of a panel of seven to the highest court of the land as unconstitutional, defending the High Court's decision to halt the five nominee's swearing in ceremony.

President last week gazetted the names of all the eight candidates to head the new face of the judiciary but the High Court ruling, arising from a suit coined around gender disparity, saw former Nominated MP Njoki Ndung'u and her four colleagues stopped from participating in Monday's exercise.
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January 15, 2014
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