NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17 – Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has advised Members of Parliament against decriminalizing Deputy President William Ruto’s Hustler campaign narrative.
Raila said the plan by the Parliament’s National Security Committee will only serve to curtail freedom of speech and expression as envisaged in the Constitution.
“I have learnt of a Bill by Parliament’s National Security Committee that seeks to criminalize DP Ruto’s hustler versus dynasties campaign slogan and proposes severe fines, jail terms and even removal from office for any leader who propagates it,” Odinga said of the plan by the Committee chaired by Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange.
“I would strongly appeal to Members of Parliament to drop any attempts to legislate against this otherwise deadly slogan. As a country, we fought for and should respect free speech and association. We should be able to allow the Deputy President and his team to continue with their chosen slogan without any inhibitions,” he said.
Ruto has come under sharp criticism from leaders allied to the President Kenyatta otherwise known as Kieleweke and those loyal to Odinga who shook hands with the president in March 2018 culminating to a peace pact that gave birth to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that is at the county assemblies stage for approval before it is sent to Parliament for debate.
24 County assemblies are required to approve the Bill for it to be sent to Parliament for subsequent debate that will determine if the country will hold a national referendum that is shrouded in uncertainty due to pending court cases.
While the president and the former Prime Minister have rallied Kenyans to support the BBI process, Ruto and leaders allied to him are opposed to it as misplaced priority.
On Tuesday, Odinga said the Deputy President and his team should be allowed to continue using the hustler slogan freely without any inhibitions.
“The “hustlers vs dynasties” is a dangerous slogan. It is scary in its similarity to Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism. These ideologies caused a great deal of trauma to Germany and the world. They ended in the Holocaust. I fear the “hustlers vs dynasties” narrative will have the same deadly consequences for Kenya as Nazism did for Germany,” Odinga said even after defending it’s use.
Odinga noted those against the narrative should continue educating Kenyans against falling for the narrative which the DP has defended saying it is meant to fight for and bolster the inclusion of all Kenyans, including those at the lower economic status.
Ruto has defended the slogan saying it is aimed at “bringing everyone to the table including the youth, ordinary people, and all enterprises.
“The discussion is going to be about all Kenyans, we want a united, inclusive society where the ordinary people are part of the discussion,” he said at a recent rally.