Cord leader Raila Odinga meets with opinion leaders from Narok County. Photo Courtesy
By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
Any attempts to muzzle the freedom of the press and expression by the Jubilee government shall be resisted by all means possible, Cord leader Raila Odinga has said.
Mr Odinga said freedom of the press and expression were embedded in the Constitution which is the country’s supreme law and all Kenyans including the government must respect these rights.
The ODM leader said it was irresponsible for the government to spend taxpayer’s money holding conferences involving senior government officials to discuss on how to gag the media.
“They have already compromised the print and electronic media and now want to muzzle the use of social media. They are going to introduce regulations to regulate it, we won’t allow this to happen,” he said
Mr Odinga who was speaking at Orange House after meeting a delegation of Maasai elders, leaders, women and youth, criticized Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett, Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and Chairman of National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Francis Ole Kaparo for trying to gag the media
“Social Media is what Kenyans are left with, now they want to muzzle it in the guise of taming hate speech, which is funny,” he said.
Mr Odinga said people should be allowed to speak freely. “What is this animal called hate speech, it has not been defined,” he said.
The ODM boss added that if what Mr Kaparo was trying to advance were to happen in the US, then the Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump would be in jail today.
“Mr Trump speaks freely and posts anything on social media, President Obama and Hilary Clinton only criticize him, but they respect free speech,” he said.
Mr Odinga said Kenyans have fought so hard to open the democratic space being enjoyed in the country and stressed that they will defend it at all costs.
“People write so much rubbish about me on social media, but there is nothing I can do, it is their democratic right,” he noted.
Mr Odinga told Mr Kaparo to stop wasting Kenyans time and concentrate on other meaningful things.
He added said Cord leaders will be heading to Narok to seek the support of the area residents ahead of next year’s General Election.
During the meeting with Maasai opinion leaders, former ICT Principal Secretary and a gubernatorial candidate for Narok County in the 2013 general election Mr Joseph Musuni Ole Tiampati defected to the ODM from Jubilee affiliate party National Congress (KNC) party.
“After consultations with various stakeholders in Narok County, they have urged me to go for the Governor’s seat on ODM ticket in next year’s general election,” Mr Tiampati said.
Mr. Tiampati said ODM was very strong in Maasai land and that he had made the right choice. He said he will work round the clock to continue popularizing the party in all corners of Narok County ahead of the general election.
Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi said a meeting at State House involving some leaders from Narok County had not in any way affected the popularity of ODM in Maasai land adding that the masses were solidly in ODM.
“We are strongly in ODM. When some people meet the President at State House, they do it on their own, not on behalf of the community” Mr Memusi said.
Others who defected to ODM are former chairman of the Narok County Council Mr Sadera Kerimpoti (KSC) and Mr Tirkoshi Ole Nampaso (KANU). The delegation was led by the chairman of ODM Narok County Mr Charles Ole Nampaso.
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Nelson Mandela once said: “A critical, independent, and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.”
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