State fronts Marende and Nyachae for Chief Justice

MarendeJUBILEE is weighing the options between former Speaker Kenneth Marende and former CIC chairman Charles Nyachae to succeed Chief Justice Willy Mutunga when he retires in June. There have been heightened interest and intense lobbying for the position of CJ in the lead-up to his exit.

The Supreme Court plays a key role in the event of a challenge to the outcome of the presidential election.

Marende, who currently chairs the Kenya Power Board of Directors, told the Star he has what it takes to offer leadership that can make a difference and meet Kenyans’ expectations and aspirations.

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He said having been hailed as a Solomonic leader during the 10th Parliament, overseeing the passage of the new constitution, his track record to perform and accomplish speaks for itself.

“If they give me an opportunity to serve in that office, I think I have the ability to serve. My ability to preside speaks for itself.

I have been tested, tried and proven,” the former National Assembly Speaker told the Star in a phone interview.

Leading the Judiciary will be overseeing one arm of government just like what he did as head of the Legislature, at the most turbulent political moments in the Grand Coalition Government, Marende said.

Nyachae, who retired to private life after his CIC tenure expired last December, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The fresh revelations have intensified the succession battle for the head of the Judiciary, who doubles as the President of the Supreme Court and JSC chairman.

Already, anxiety has gripped the Judiciary over the composition of the Supreme Court Bench, with Deputy CJ Kalpana Rawal and Justice Philip Tunoi set to retire after attaining age 70 under the new constitution.

They have however appealed against the JSC’s decision to retire them at 70 and not 74 years, as provided for in the old constitution.

The other Supreme Court judges are: Jackton Ojwang’, Mohammed Ibrahim, Njoki Ndung’u and Dr Smokin Wanjala.

The ruling Jubilee coalition has already drawn the battle lines, with MPs having passed constitutional amendments that gave President Uhuru Kenyatta sweeping powers to determine Mutunga’s successor.

And also in an apparent move to sway the JSC’s decision on Mutunga’s heir, Uhuru last year appointed Jubilee strategists Winnie Guchu and Kipng’etich Korir to the JSC.

Guchu played a critical role in the 2013 elections, most notably in the election petitions filed to challenge the declaration of Uhuru as President.

Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto are keen on the composition of the Supreme Court ahead of what is building up into a tight 2017 presidential contest against Cord leader Raila Odinga.

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