Kenya Kwanza leaders scoff at CJ Koome, LSK

President William Ruto speaks during the launch of Bondeni Affordable Housing Project in Nakuru, January 13, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

President William Ruto and his allies have criticised lawyers for protesting against attacks on the Judiciary.

Kenya Kwanza leaders accused the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Chief Justice Martha Koome of protecting what they termed "judicial impunity" in Kenya.

Speaking during an interdenominational church service in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, on Sunday, President Ruto said the country's development will not be derailed by corruption in government.

"We will deal firmly with those hiding behind the independence of the Judiciary so that they continue siphoning money at NHIF. We will deal with corruption, including in the Judiciary," Ruto said.

He said vested interests, impunity and corruption were delaying the country's development.

"No one should blackmail Kenya anymore. We are at a place where we have to make a decision," the President said.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua challenged Koome to tell Kenyans when petitions before the Judicial Service Commission will be determined.

He said lawyers and judicial officers remained silent on extrajudicial killings and refusal by Uhuru Kenyatta's regime to appoint six judges.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah maintained that impunity was rife in the Judiciary.

"We need to have a conversation on whether there is corruption in the Judiciary. Ordinary Kenyans who go to court for justice have a story to tell," Ichung'wa said.

He asked the Judiciary to respect President Ruto for appointing six judges who had been victimized for no apparent reason.

Ichung'wa asked church leaders to join in the debate on judicial integrity.

"The conversation we are having has nothing to do with the independence of the Judiciary," the Kikuyu MP said.

"We want to tell the Chief Justice that "you have hundreds of complaints before JSC". Before you ask us to bring more petitions, deal with complaints against judicial officers," he added.

The Majority Leader said Ruto has been a defender of the independence of the Judiciary, but his respect for the third arm of government should not extend to condoning corruption.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said they will ensure lawyers supporting the Kenya Kwanza administration triumph in the upcoming LSK elections.

"We will elect those who support your agenda," he told President Ruto.

"We don't know the lawyers who were protesting on the streets," he added.

He asked Ruto to slash the Judiciary budget of Sh23 billion and divert the funds to bursaries for needy students and upgrading health facilities.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot said the President was fair in criticism of the Judiciary and told lawyers to stop defending the third arm of government.

"It is time for judges to also do public participation before making rulings," the Kericho Senator said.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale told off LSK over the Friday protests, saying senior lawyers kept off.

"There are many judges who uphold integrity, but there are a few who have integrity issues," said Duale.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii said the Judiciary should not be allowed to delay the implementation of government projects.

Marakwet West MP Timothy Toroitich described the lawyer's association as a hypocritical body that has failed in its advisory roles.

"When the six judges were not appointed, we never saw LSK demonstrating. LSK should stop the hypocrisy," the MP said.

Ruto officially opened the Iten County Referral Hospital Mother and Baby unit.

He was accompanied by Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich, Roads CS Kipchumba Murkomen and his health counterpart Susan Nakhumicha, among other government officials.

Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga said lawyers should be helping the government in legislation but not protesting.

Also present were Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii, Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator William Kisang.

Others were MPs Adams Kipsanai of Keiyo North, his Keiyo South counterpart Gideon Kimaiyo, Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi) and Elgeyo Marakwet Woman Representative Caroline Ngelechei among other leaders.

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