Uhuru appoints Martha Koome as Chief Justice


Martha Karambu Koome is Kenya's first woman Chief Justice following her appointment by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 19, 2021. PHOTO | NMG

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday appointed Justice Martha Koome as the Chief Justice, making her the first woman in Kenya's history to hold the position, hours after Parliament approved her nomination.

The head of State gazetted Justice Koome to head the Judiciary for a non-renewable 10-year term, succeeding David Maraga who retired in January.

Members of Parliament on Wednesday morning approved Ms Koome, paving the way for her swearing-in.

President Kenyatta had forwarded her name to Parliament for approval on April 28 after she beat nine other candidates including judges, prominent lawyers in private practice and law scholars. 

Ms Koome, 61, has the option of retiring after attaining the age of 65.

She becomes Kenya’s third Chief Justice after the passing of the Constitution in 2010 and joins Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Njoki Ndung’u at the Supreme Court ending a 10-year wait to comply with the constitutional one-third gender rule.

Justice Koome’s nomination was marred by controversy after the Judicial Service Commission declined to reveal the scores of the ten candidates amid claims by top lawyer Fred Ngatia that he had been rigged out.

Mr Ngatia, who had been tipped as one of the frontrunners, disputed Justice Koome’s nomination, saying that the JSC manipulated his scores.

Renowned for her passion for children and women’s rights, Justice Koome joined the High Court in 2003 and served in several stations among them Nakuru and Nairobi, before she was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2011.

Last year, Justice Koome was named United Nations (UN) Kenya Person of the Year 2020 in recognition of her advocacy for the rights of children in conflict.

Editor's note: The story has been updated following her formal appointment.