, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Thursday that he would not sue Miguna Miguna, the author of the sensational book “Peeling Back the Mask” that has made serious accusations against him.
The Premier said through his legal affairs advisor that the decision was based on the need to advance the emerging civil liberties as enshrined in the Constitution.
“The Prime Minister feels strongly that we must open a new chapter in the freedom of expression and of the press. Without free exchange of ideas, this country will not move to become a first world country,” stated Paul Mwangi, the Premier’s legal advisor.
He added that Odinga acknowledged that the exercise of any liberty carried with it the danger that it shall be abused and is actionable in almost all instances except where the abuse occurs in the process of the scrutiny of a public official.
“Although the law in Kenya still allows defamation suits by public officials, the overall effect on the freedom of the press has been negative,” he said.
He however cautioned that the position should not be misconstrued as a license to any person, publication or media to repeat the “scandalous and indecent sleaze retched by the writer.”
“The Prime Minister, as a champion of the rights in our Constitution, has accepted to bear the hurt of defamation, rather than take any action that may discourage the advancement and expansion of the field of these rights. The Prime Minister views the recently launched publication as ‘the ugly thorns that grow on the bushes of the beautiful roses of freedom’,” he further said.
But in a quick rejoinder, Miguna Miguna, the author of the book dismissed the Prime Minister saying he had not responded to the allegations in the book which he termed as serious.
“They go to the heart of his ability or lack thereof to lead. The country and the world is still waiting,” Miguna said.
He also took issue with the Prime Minister’s failure to condemn a group that burnt the authors’ effigy and buried his coffin in Nyando.
“A responsible leader who upholds the rule of law would have quickly condemned those barbaric acts and distanced himself from them. By not doing so, Raila has now fully associated himself with such acts,” he stated.
He further dismissed the statement saying the legal advisor’s comment could not be taken to be Odinga’s since he is not the spokesperson.
“As far as I can see, Raila has not spoken on my book at all. Subterfuge will not do. This is not what is expected of a PM who wants us to compare him to modern leaders in the first world. He has failed in action and practice,” Miguna affirmed.
”If or when Caroli (Omondi, the PM’s Chief of Staff) and others commence action against me, as far as I am concerned, that would be Raila doing it. Caroli is not just Raila’s Private Secretary, he is also a self-styled ‘Chief of Staff’. Everything written about Caroli in the book revolves around what he did after Raila was appointed PM and Caroli started working at his office. Consequently, as far as I am concerned, in all intents and purposes, Raila is Caroli and Caroli is Raila as far as my book is concerned,” he concluded.