Raila Odinga: Ruto's dalliance with judiciary 'could hurt court independence'

ODM leader Raila Odinga greets mourners during the burial of the late Katoi Kahindi Mulanda at Biyubu, Kanze in Kilifi County. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga stepped up his criticism of President William Ruto’s relationship with the judiciary, the skyrocketing cost of living, and the State’s proposed tax increase.

Raila yesterday expressed concern about the Kenya Kwanza Alliance regime’s growing ties with the judiciary, saying it could erode the courts’ independence.

“We’ve seen what happens when the executive colludes with the judiciary. What we’re seeing is concerning, and it could lead us back to the dark days,” Raila said.

He said Ruto’s public declaration that he will give the judiciary Sh3 billion was a ruse to endear himself to and eventually control the judiciary. President Ruto, on the other hand, has insisted that his administration will not interfere with the judiciary’s work and that it is keen to ensure the court’s financial independence.

Ruto stated during the launch of the Status of the Judiciary Annual Report that his administration will not interfere with court decisions.

Raila yesterday said while the executive and judiciary are interdependent, the Kenya Kwanza administration appears eager to demonstrate to Kenyans that it controls the courts.

“The powers of the judiciary and the executive are supposed to be balanced. If they go to bed, there will be no one to check on the other.”

Raila said Kenya will rise to oppose any tax increase, claiming that Ruto’s attempt to overburden citizens who are already struggling demonstrates he is out of touch with reality.

He said instead of focusing on raising taxes, Ruto should close corruption loopholes and other state wastes.

The Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance leader added that Ruto and his team should stop lamenting the past and begin working for Kenyans now that they are in power.

He expressed regret that the Kenya Kwanza government appears to be clueless, and that “this is why we are witnessing ever-shifting election campaign pledges.”

Raila said yesterday in Kilifi that the Kenya Kwanza team duped Kenyans with flowery promises that it is now unable to fulfill. Other leaders who accompanied Raila to Kilifi said the interest-free loans, dubbed “the hustler fund,” promised by Ruto for small-scale traders had devolved into a pyramid scheme.

“He promised to lower maize flour prices and provide interest-free loans in 100 days, but now he’s pushing for more taxes. The donkey is overloaded and cannot support any more weight.”

The opposition leader was speaking to mourners at the burial of Jacob Fikirini, the father of the ODM Kilifi youth leader. Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro, his Mombasa counterpart Abdulswamad Nassir, and other leaders accompanied him.

Mung’aro and Nassir urged Ruto to hand over the Galana Kulalu food project to Kilifi and Tana River counties.

Munga’ro said the projects should be jointly managed by the Coast’s six county governments under the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP). “The people of Kilifi and Tana River donated land to the national government for the irrigation project. If it is unable to do so, it should return the land to the counties so that we carry out the project,” the governor said.

Mung’aro added that residents of Kilifi will oppose any attempt to lease the 1.8 million-acre Galana Kulalu land to private investors. 

Nassir said all community land in the hand of State agencies at the Coast should be reverted to the county government. “Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. Galana Kulalu should be returned to the owner,” Nassir said.

The Standard
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