, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24- The National Super Alliance presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga was on Monday put to task over statements he had made in Kajiado County asking locals not to sell their land to ‘outsiders.’
Odinga said he was not apologetic of the remarks since he only meant there is need to empower “each and every Kenyan. And their rights should be protected.”
“I don’t regret any word that I uttered on that day…I meant every word that I uttered,” Odinga said during the second tier of the presidential debates, in which he was meant to face off with President Uhuru Kenyatta who skipped it.
Odinga said he was addressing the “issue of poverty of the people in that area. Those people are pastoralists and they do not have to be poor.”
– Social Media –
On the question of how social media should be handled during the elections, Odinga cautioned that it should not be shut down.
According to him, Kenyans should be allowed to debate freely on social media platforms, saying that will amount to suppressing their constitutional rights.
“I hope it is not an excuse to do what they did in Uganda,” the Opposition leader said.
On July 17, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman Francis ole Kaparo said they are already working with the Communications Authority of Kenya to identify possible threats posed by social media platforms, besides cracking down on irresponsible users.
Kaparo revealed that the government may consider shutting down social media during the August 8 General Election in the event it threatens the country’s peace and stability.
“Last week, you guys asked me, are you contemplating shutting down some of these social media, my answer was and continues to be if it is necessary, they will be shut out if it is necessary. So that is my stand and I believe that is what ought to be,” Kaparo told a forum on election preparedness, bringing together police chiefs, judiciary officials, the NCIC and the Communication Authority.”
The move is aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2007 post election violence which was largely blamed on incitement–including on social media. More than 1,100 people were killed and more than 600,000 others displaced mainly in Rift Valley, Nyanza, Nairobi, and parts of Central Province.
– Peace Message-
On peace during and after elections, Odinga said during the debate that “some people basically want to scare Kenyans.”
He said there is no reason for Kenyans to fear since “I don’t see any violence happening.”
Odinga said both the government and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had assured them that “they will not interfere with the elections.”
If the election will be free and fair, he promised Kenyans to concede defeat.
“I wish my brother President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy all the best and promise that this will be a friendly game,” Odinga said.
Out of eight presidential candidates, only four attended the Monday’s two debates.