Ruto declines to sign Finance Bill 2024

President Ruto declines to sign Finance Bill, 2024

What you need to know:

  • The move follows Tuesday's deadly protests that saw demonstrators breach Parliament premises.
  • The President has also directed that the operation budget of the Presidency and the Executive be reduced.

President William Ruto, acceding to pressure from Kenyans after several protests, has declined to sign Finance Bill, 2024 to law.

The move follows Tuesday's deadly protests that saw demonstrators breach Parliament premises for the first time in Kenya's history.

"Having reflected on the continuing conversation around the content of the Finance Bill of 2024, I will decline to assent to the bill," President Ruto said on Wednesday evening at State House, Nairobi.

The Head of State acknowledged that following the passage of the bill, the country witnessed widespread expression of dissatisfaction with the bill as passed, resulting in the loss of life, destruction of property and desecration of constitutional institutions.

Read President William Ruto's full Statement

"I send condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this unfortunate manner," he said.

President Ruto’s decision to send back the Bill back to Parliament will likely be seen as an attempt to de-escalate already rising tensions following Tuesday’s countrywide demos.

The moment protesters entered Parliament

After it was passed by MPs, the Finance Bill was submitted to his office for signing into law.

The President has also directed that the operation budget of the Presidency and entire Executive be reduced.

"I direct immediate further austerity measures to reduce expenditure, starting with the Executive Office of the President and extending to the entire executive arm of government. I direct that operational expenditure in the Presidency be reduced to remove allocations for the confidential
vote, reduce travel budget, hospitality and purchase of motor vehicles, renovations and other expenditures," the President said.

"I propose that equally, Parliament, the Judiciary and County Governments working with the National Treasury also undertake budget cuts and austerity to ensure that we do what I have always advocated for, that we live within our means," he said. 

The Head of State further proposed an engagement with young people in the country to listen to their issues and agree with them on their priority areas of concern.

"I also propose that within the next 14 days, a multi-sectoral, multistakeholder engagement be held with a view to charting the way forward on matters relating to the content of the bill as well as auxiliary issues raised in recent days on the need for austerity measures and strengthening our fight against corruption," he said. 

Lawyers lobby

Earlier, a group of lawyers and activists had rushed to court seeking orders to block President Ruto from assenting to the controversial Finance and the Appropriation Bills, 2024 pending the determination of the petition.

The seven including lawyers Ndegwa Njiru, Jackline Mwangi, Lempaa Suyinka and Mt Kenya Jurists Association were seeking court orders to President Ruto from assenting the Bill, which was passed by MPs on Monday amid protests in at least 36 counties.

The petitioners are further seeking for the file to be taken to Chief Justice Martha Koome for appointment of a bench of five judges to determine the case. 

“Given that Parliament has not and cannot step up to its constitutional mandate to protect the sovereignty and interests of the Kenyan people, it is absolutely necessary that this Honourable Court steps up to defend the Constitution by stopping the implementation of the budget under the Finance Bill, 2024 until the case is heard and determined,” Mr Mungai said. 

Additional report by Sam Kiplagat