Deputy President William Ruto has cautioned his ‘Tangatanga’ allies against making reckless remarks as the succession politics hots up.
Speaking in Bomet on Monday, the country’s second in command urged his troops to mind their language ahead of the polls scheduled for August 9 as one way of promoting peace during the electioneering period.
The DP was reacting to the ‘madoadoa’ remarks made by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on Saturday.
The ‘madoadoa’ remarks uttered at Eldoret Sports Club during Ruto’s rally in the region were described by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) as inflammatory.
“Niwaambie nyinyi msituchezee, watu wa Uasin Gishu msicheze na Kenya. Na kile nawaomba ni kwamba madoadoa yale mlio nayo hapa muweze kuondoa, muweze kufanya nini? Hatuwezi kuwa tunasimama na William tukiwa Kule Mount Kenya na Meru alafu mko na wengine hapa hawasikii na hawaungani na yeye. Mko tayari kutuondolea hao? Mko tayari?” NCIC quoted Linturi.
According to NCIC, the utterances were calculated to be “hateful and likely to affect harmonious coexistence between the Kalenjins and other communities contrary Section 13(1) (a) of the National Cohesion and Integration Act.”
The slur sparked outrage from a section of Kenyans leading to the arrest of Linturi in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
The lawmaker spent the weekend in custody and is expected to be arraigned and charged with hate speech later today.
The slur is linked to the 2007/08 post-election violence that left more than 1,100 people dead and 600,000 others displaced.
In his remarks today, Ruto said Linturi had apologised and urged Kenyans to pardon him.
“Senator Linturi made remarks which he regrets. The statement had inappropriate language. He has withdrawn the statement and issued an unconditional apology to the people of Kenya,” Ruto said.
He added: “Going forward members of my team, the hustler nation, all of us must mind our language, all of us must mind about what we say so that we can unite this nation because that is what the hustler nation believes in.”
He, however, urged authorities not to apply the law selectively.
“I want to ask institutions charged with making sure we have a peaceful nation and a peaceful election that they must apply the law in a manner that does not create two sets of laws for two sets of groups.
“We want every inciter in Kenya whether they belong to UDA or the other side (Kieleweke). We want the law to apply equally so that we can secure our nation,” he added.
In his apology on Saturday night, Linturi said he uttered the words ‘innocently’ without any sinister motive.
He claimed his speech was taken out of context adding that he was referring to politicians in the area who continue to oppose Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.
“It is true that words like ‘madoadoa’, whilst otherwise innocent and legitimate expressions, have in certain contexts come to be understood as representing inflammatory intent. This context did not occur to me while I was speaking,” Linturi said in a statement.
“I must point out that my use of these words was in specific reference to our Parliamentary colleagues from Uasin Gishu County, who do not support UDA, and whom I urged voters to reject in favour of UDA candidates, given that we are in a political contest, and they are our rivals.”
Pledging peace, the Senator went on to ask for forgiveness from members of the public over the discomfort caused.
“On further reflection, and upon the advise of my colleagues, I regretfully concede that my choice of words was unfortunate. I therefore apologise, unreservedly, for the discomfort they may have created,” he said.
“I also take this opportunity to assure all Kenyans of my commitment, both as a citizen and as a leader, to national unity, peace, and cohesion within and among all communities.”