Kenyan President William Ruto has backed his trade minister for threatening a media house over its exposé of a cooking oil scandal.
Moses Kuria had warned government departments not to advertise with the Nation Media Group (NMG) after the report which alleged that certain private firms were allowed by his ministry to import cooking oil tax-free.
The report noted that the specific exemption under Kenyan law could only be made for emergency relief goods – with the entire deal potentially leading to the loss of more than $100m (£78m).
On Twitter, Mr Kuria also called journalists working at NMG “whores”.
His comments caused outrage in the media sector, even earning him a rebuke from the industry regulator.
Mr Kuria vowed never to apologise for his remarks, accusing the media of being biased.
By Wednesday, a high court had issued an order barring Mr Kuria from uttering any demeaning or insulting words against journalists, pending a case filed by a human rights activist that the minister’s outburst made him unsuitable to serve as a public officer.
But President Ruto said that people should be allowed to call out the media: “We must also defend the rights of those who hold the media to account when the media goes rogue.
“We must defend the rights of people like Moses Kuria to speak their mind the same way we are defending the media to say all the things they want including the wrong ones.”