Kenya’s president William Ruto has come under heavy criticism following comments he made on the country’s judiciary.
Speaking at a function on Tuesday, Ruto said that “corrupt” judges were conspiring with “cartels” to frustrate his administration’s projects.
Since taking office in September 2022, the president has introduced two hugely unpopular new taxes amid a cost-of-living crisis.
In his remarks, Ruto warned that “judicial impunity” would be stopped and threatened to disobey court orders.
Chief Justice Martha Koome was quick to respond, saying that the president’s comments jeopardised Kenya’s rule of law and would allow public suspicion and distrust in the judiciary to grow.
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.
He also posted on X, 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.