Kenyan President William Ruto is facing intense criticism for his recent remarks about the country’s judiciary. During a Tuesday event, Ruto accused “corrupt” judges of colluding with “cartels” to obstruct his administration’s projects.
Since assuming office in September 2022, the president has implemented two highly unpopular taxes amidst a worsening cost-of-living crisis. In his speech, Ruto expressed concern about what he termed “judicial impunity” and issued a warning, indicating that it would be halted, even going as far as threatening to disregard court orders.
Chief Justice Martha Koome swiftly responded, asserting that the president’s statements pose a threat to Kenya’s rule of law. She emphasized that such comments could fuel public suspicion and erode trust in the judiciary.
Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission said in a separate statement that it had noted the president’s remarks “with concern”.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga said Ruto’s threats against the judiciary amounted to intimidation and disregard for the rule of law.
In a statement published on Wednesday, Ruto defended his comments and said he vowed to continue fighting corrupt practices.
William Ruto also posted on Twitter, writing that “we will root out the corrupt” and “the impunity of bribing judges so as not to derail, delay, or sabotage Kenya’s imminent transformation will never happen under my watch.”
The Law Society of Kenya has called for countrywide peaceful protests next week “in support of the rule of law and in solidarity with the judiciary”.
In a statement, its president Eric Thueri said that “the President, as the foremost custodian of the rule of law, should refrain from undermining the judiciary and instead, utilize legal avenues at his disposal to challenge decisions that he finds aggrieving.”