Kenya: CORD leader Raila Odinga Friday slammed government efforts to shift public attention from Deputy President William Ruto, who is embroiled in a referral hospital scandal where the cost of the project was inflated by Sh11 billion.
Speaking at Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, Raila said the DP needed not defend himself on Twitter. While he was careful not to pass guilt, he censured the Jubilee administration for double-speak in the war against graft.
“I do not wish to be dragged into this controversial issue of who is guilty and who is not. However, if indeed you (DP) are clean, you do not need to have a twitter hash-tag-stating the same,” said Raila, in reference the twitter hashtag #RutoIsClean.
He added, “You do not have to clean yourself through twitter. People will know when you are clean. I do not wish anybody harm.”
The former Premier however declined to comment further on the allegations against the DP, which went viral on social media with Kenyans demanding action after a whistleblower accused the DP of kicking him out of the Sh17 billion deal and inflating it to Sh28 billion.
The CORD leader however, said his relationship with the President and his deputy is cordial and has nothing personal against them, only difference in opinion.
He castigated the government saying the country is losing the war. “The war on corruption cannot be won merely with words. We must have proper institutions to deal with systemic issues that have affected this country over the years and slowed development,” he said.
He said: “The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is the institution established by law and mandated to deal with issues of economic crime. The president cannot purport to declare war on corruption and at the same time disband the commission.”
The former Prime Minister expressed disappointment that the president suspended EACC commissioners after he issued a six days executive order for state officers mentioned in the list of shame to step aside.
“How do you disband a commission and ask it to take 60 days to deal with 175 cases? This is contradiction, as the government is not taking this matter seriously. I do not know if these actions amount to fighting corruption since the commission cannot operate without substantive commissioners,” said Raila.
He added, “The question I'm putting over to the country’s leadership is to tell Kenyans where they stand in the war on corruption.”
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On the controversial two-thirds gender rule, which has caused a rift in Parliament amongst women leaders, the CORD leader told National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi to stay clear of the subject.
He stressed that the position of CORD remains very clear, it supports the affirmative action, to have more women in leadership.
“The issue of two thirds gender is a very pregnant subject going on now and hotly contested by the women. We fought so hard to ensure women get their rightful place in the country’s leadership structure, I fully support this move and will defend it,” he said.
Raila, who was flanked by CORD co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka, Senator Hassan Omar (Mombasa) and Junet Mohammed (Suna East MP) and former MP Reuben Ndolo, Raila Odinga Junior and Rosemary Odinga during the launch of RAO website-www.RAO.co.ke, dubbed Zinduka at Pananfric Hotel, stressed that the Opposition will not sit back and watch anybody relinquish the gains and promises made to Kenyans.
“Who told Muturi he has powers to scrap anything. There is nothing to be scrapped off. We are busy trying to implement the Constitution and some people are busy trying to subvert it,” he charged.
Kalonzo challenged the Jubilee leadership to uphold the spirit of the Constitution. “We should stick to the Constitution in letter and spirit. Let us be agents of movement of real change,” he stressed.
And Raila responding to questions by youth who turned up to grace his event, which is a platform to engage with them said: “I am not launching my campaign. This is a platform to enable me interact with the young people who constitute over 70 per cent of the country’s population and who may not have a chance to pay me a visit at home or in the office.”
He dismissed assertions by a section of the media that he was launching his campaign bid, saying the website is a means to communicate with the young population, who are very active on social media.
“The world is changing in terms of communication. It is though forums like the website, twitter, Facebook and instagram that the youth can channel their attributes, frustrations, aspirations and ideas for change to grow and prosper,” said Raila.
The website was an initiative of the young people under the age of 30, with the assistance of Raila’s youngest daughter, Winnie. Kalonzo welcomed the initiative, saying young people are taking over the leadership mantle globally and Kenyans should not be an exception.