Interviews for the Chief Justice to succeed David Maraga began at the Supreme Court buildings in Nairobi on Monday, with Justice Said Juma Chitembwe facing the panel.

In the panel is Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, who has been holding the position in acting capacity since Mr Maraga retired in January. Also in the panel led by JSC vice chair Olive Mugenda is Justice Mohammed Abdullahi Warsame.

"If I'm appointed, I will build on what others have done with the sole purpose of improving the institution so that it can be what it is supposed to be, as per its vision and mission," Justice Chitembwe said in the initial stages of his interview.

His competitors are Prof Patricia Mbote, Justice Martha Koome, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Dr Wekesa Moni and Alice Yano.

Conflict of interest

Regarding Judge Mwilu's participation, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has disregarded conflict of interest protests by one of the applicants, setting the stage for the interviews.

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Philip Murgor had written to the JSC requesting that Justice Mwilu sit the interview process out, arguing that she could be biased towards another applicant, Fred Ngatia.

In his letter, Mr Murgor argued that Justice Mwilu and Mr Ngatia have had an advocate-client relationship in the past, and that their history may trigger bias during the interviews.

Covid-19 impact

On Sunday, Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi announced that the interviews will take place outside for the first time, as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

She also said only one candidate will face the panel per day.