Kenyan President William Ruto has come under a barrage of criticism following his threat to disobey court orders from “corrupt judges”.
Mr Ruto on Tuesday said some unnamed judges had teamed up with opposition politicians and “cartels” to block his government’s projects.
But in a swift response, Chief Justice Martha Koome said defying court orders was a breach of public trust placed in state and public officers.
“When state or public officers threaten to defy court orders, the rule of law is imperilled, setting stage for anarchy to prevail in a nation,” Ms Koome said in a statement.
She also urged judges to continue performing their judicial duties without fear or favour.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga said Mr Ruto’s threats against the judiciary amounted to intimidation and disregard for the rule of law.
Mr Odinga said the president had “crossed the line” with his attacks against judges.
Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which is chaired by Ms Koome, said in a separate statement that it had noted the president’s remarks “with concern”.
The Law Society of Kenya has called for countrywide protests next week in solidarity with the judiciary.
But Mr Ruto in a statement issued by government spokesperson Hussein Mohammed on Wednesday vowed to fight what he termed “judicial impunity”.
The president, who came to power in September 2022, has come under criticism for introducing new taxes amid rising cost of living.
Two new taxes – the housing levy and the proposed universal health cover deductions – have been challenged in court, and their respective rulings are pending.