Leaders react to Linturi’s inflammatory remarks

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi in Nakuru on Sunday.

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi's remarks at Deputy President William Ruto's rally have attracted reactions from leaders from across the political divide.

The reactions depend mostly based on the leaders' political affiliations.

For Linturi and Ruto’s stalwarts, Linturi's choice of words was only a figurative language aimed at drumming up support and wooing Uasin Gishu residents to vote in a six-piece formula.

But pro-government leaders described the Senator’s utterances as ethnic profiling and an assault on the peace and harmony among the communities in Rift Valley.

The Senator who was arrested on Saturday night in Eldoret has apologised while seeking to explain his message even as the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) put him on their ladder.

Political commentator James Mithika said it will be difficult to divorce the remarks of the senator, especially because they were made at a political rally.

"Many will assume that the senator spoke under instruction and that the intentions were suspect," the political commentator said.

Ruto’s lieutenants claimed the senator was only urging supporters to offer full support to UDA candidates.

Linturi had added: “On further reflection, and upon the advice of my colleagues, I regretfully concede that my choice of words was unfortunate. I apologise, unreservedly,

for the discomfort I may have created.”

Ruto's ally and Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi said it was actually Linturi who was being profiled following his remarks.

“ODM sympathisers should stop profiling Linturi for their failure of comprehension or intentional misrepresentation of what the senator said,” Havi said.

Murang'a Senator Irungu Kangata found no offence with his counterpart's remarks, saying other leaders have used figurative language before and were never arrested.

He said leaders from across the political divide should avoid using metaphorical language as it is prone to misinterpretation.

Leaders allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila slammed the senator for the remarks and hailed the investigative agencies for moving with speed to arrest him.

Kiambu Governor James Nyoro said Linturi's remarks set a dangerous tone in a region that has experienced political intolerance.

"We have residents originally from Kiambu who have lived in Rift Valley, and who are yet to fully heal from the scars of political intolerance."

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said, “To profile persons on the basis of political or ethnic orientation is regrettable".

His Nyandarua counterpart Francis Kimemia said the utterances by the senator were inciteful and derogatory.

“It is time for Ruto to call his lieutenants to order lest they plunge the country into chaos,” he said.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth said the remarks were a ploy to intimidate voters from making free choices by rekindling the painful memories of the 2007-08 post-election violence.