CHUKA, Kenya, Dec 6 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has affirmed his government’s commitment to respect media freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution.
President Kenyatta asked the media to exercise responsible journalism by respecting the rights of other Kenyans as guaranteed in the same Constitution.
“If you have no intention of committing crimes, then why are you afraid of the proposed fines?” the President posed.
Speaking at Chuka University grounds during the Chuka town centenary celebrations, President Kenyatta urged the media to be honest in their interpretation of the Kenya Information Communications Amendment Bill 2013.
“Be honest and stop spreading falsehoods on the provisions in the media bill. Penalties imposed in other countries particularly the West are stiffer than those proposed in the media bill,” the President said.
President Kenyatta asked the media to exploit forums at their disposal to discuss any contentious clauses in the bill instead of spreading lies.
The President said the media is free to report on all issues in the country without fear of intimidation by his Government.
“You have been writing about me and you have not heard me complain. Those aggrieved by irresponsible journalism have a right to seek redress,” he added.
He said the government is ready and willing to work with the media and leaders from across the political divide to realize unity for economic development for prosperity.
President Kenyatta warned leaders inciting their communities to violence to gain cheap publicity that the law will deal with them without bias on their status in society.
He regretted that despite the Government’s efforts to reconcile communities by talking with leaders in the affected areas, including Pokot, Samburu, Marsabit and Moyale insecurity has persisted.
President Kenyatta said elected leaders have a responsibility to encourage Kenyans to co-exist harmoniously.
The President advised Kenyans in pastoral areas to shun the retrogressive cultures of cattle rustling and respect the rights of their neighbours to own livestock.
President Kenyatta said his Government will take stern measures against those bent on undermining peace and national security. Let us not destabilize efforts to deliver services, he added.
“The law will not be applied selectively. Whether in Jubilee or any other political party be ready to face the consequences of your actions,” the President told inciters.
President Kenyatta said for some time now, his government has held serious talks with leaders from Pokot, Turkana, Samburu and Moyale trying to reconcile the communities involved but the conflicts in those areas have continued to persist.
The President therefore said time for talking is over and now the Government will act accordingly to ensure residents of areas affected by cattle rustling and inter-clan fighting enjoy peace.
Said the President; “We now want to leave this retrogressive culture of cattle rustling. We no longer can afford leaders telling us this is what our fore-fathers did. Even us our forefathers used to do certain things which we don’t do”.
“You can’t say killing your neighbours and cattle rustling are cultural, there is no culture which allows one to kill his neighbour,” added the President.
He thanked parliament for approving deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to deal with insecurity in those areas saying law, order and peace is essential if economic development agenda is to be realised.
The President reminded elected leaders that Kenyans voted for them for quality service delivery and they should therefore develop an altitude on peace and unity for the sake of development.
President Kenyatta also warned people destroying forests and other water catchments areas in the country that their days are numbered.
The President led Kenyans in observing one minute silence in honour of the former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela who died Thursday night.
Deputy President William Ruto echoed the President’s sentiments saying the media should work with the government to realize the transformative agenda for the country.