Kenyan President William Ruto sparked an uproar this week within the East African country’s judiciary, including the head of the Supreme Court, by claiming that some of his officials were “corrupt.” , worked to defeat his reforms.

After several of his projects suffered setbacks in the courts, which notably blocked a vast privatization plan, a reform of the health system and the introduction of new taxes, the Kenyan head of state strongly denounced a ” judicial tyranny,” in a speech, Tuesday, January 2.

“It is not possible to respect the justice system [when] a few individuals who benefit from corruption use corrupt judicial officials to block our projects,” said William Ruto, who took office as president in September 2022. “We are a democracy, we respect and we will protect the independence of the judiciary,” but “what we will not allow is judicial tyranny and judicial impunity,” he added.


The President of the Supreme Court, Martha Koome, considered that such statements threatened the rule of law, in a note to magistrates, cited by Kenyan media, without explicitly mentioning William Ruto: “When the State or officials threaten to defy court orders, the rule of law is in jeopardy, paving the way for anarchy,” she said. The professional association of lawyers, the Law Society of Kenya, has called for protests next week.

Opposition veteran Raila Odinga ruled on Wednesday that William Ruto had “crossed a line” and called his comments “unacceptable”. Defeated by William Ruto in a close presidential election, the unsuccessful candidate did not recognize the results of the election and took the matter to the Supreme Court.

The economy of Kenya, the locomotive of East Africa, was seriously shaken by Covid, then the shock wave of the war in Ukraine and a historic drought in the Horn of Africa, with the result empty coffers, galloping inflation and a currency that has plunged.

Faced with these difficulties and contrary to his campaign promises, Mr Ruto introduced new taxes. The Nairobi High Court, however, suspended in 2023 a controversial payroll tax to finance housing as well as a proposed sale of state-owned companies. The government appealed.