State House and Law Society of Kenya Clash Over Judicial Independence

In a recent development, the State House has entered into a war of words with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) over President William Ruto’s stance on the independence of the Judiciary and constitutionalism.

State House Spokesperson, Hussein Mohamed, dismissed LSK’s criticism of President Ruto, emphasizing the President’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and respecting court orders, even in matters concerning his affordable housing initiative.

“We agree with the Law Society of Kenya that Executive impunity is unacceptable. However, legislative and judicial impunity are also unacceptable. President Ruto recognizes the imperative to lead by example in defending our constitutional values,” Mohamed asserted.

He went on to address concerns about corruption within the different branches of the government and the general public, stating that corruption should not find refuge behind the shield of judicial independence.

“Corruption, whether within the Judiciary, the Executive, or the Legislature, must not find refuge behind the shield of judicial independence. It is our duty to expose and hold accountable those who engage in corrupt practices wherever they may be,” Mohamed added.

Expressing worry about the potential return of judicial impunity in Kenya, Mohamed drew parallels with a previous era during President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure, declaring, “We must never allow the return of such impunity in Kenya.”

He questioned the delicate balance between the three branches of government, particularly regarding the Executive’s mandate to deliver on election promises without seeking constant concurrence from the Judiciary.

The State House’s defense of President Ruto comes in response to LSK President Eric Theuri’s announcement of plans to hold protests against the President’s criticism of the Judiciary. Theuri urged President Ruto to retract his statements, expressing concerns that they pose a threat to the rule of law.

Theuri emphasized the need for the President to present evidence of corruption to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) instead of making unsupported claims. He criticized the attacks on the Judiciary as undermining its independence and warned against an autocratic governance style.

“We call upon the President of Kenya to avail evidence of corruption to JSC. When a hyena wants to eat its children, it starts telling them that they smell like sheep,” Theuri remarked.

He questioned the implications of the President’s refusal to obey court orders, particularly for ordinary citizens seeking justice in court. Theuri highlighted the importance of respecting the decisions of the same courts that upheld and, at another time, nullified President Ruto’s election.

As tensions escalate, President Ruto’s pledge to defy court orders hindering his projects, particularly in the housing sector, adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing dispute between the State House and the Law Society of Kenya. LSK’s planned nationwide peaceful demonstrations, marked by advocates and legal practitioners wearing purple ribbons, underscore their support for the Judiciary and the rule of law.

The clash between the State House and LSK sets the stage for a critical examination of the delicate interplay between the branches of government and the broader implications for Kenya’s constitutional values. The African Watch will continue to monitor and report on this evolving situation.


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