December 12th 2017

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Raila defends self over comments at Ntimama burial, presses for TJRC report implementation

"It was also horrible to hear the President own up to corruption and chide those who aren’t partaking of it. The 'sisi tunakula nyama na nyinyi mnamwaga mate' wasn’t just in bad taste but shows that the President is actually justifying the 'it is our time to eat' mantra"'.

By Phillip MuleeFriday, 16 Sep 2016 16:29 EAT

CORD leader Raila Odinga arrives at the burial of veteran Maasai leader William Ole Ntimama

Opposition coalition CORD's leader Raila Odinga today said he had no apologies to make after challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta on the implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report.

Raila demanded the implementation of the TJRC report, which details historical injustices over land and extrajudicial killings among other ills, during the funeral service for the departed Maasai politician William ole Ntimama, who in his heydays was a fierce defender of Maasai land rights.

The opposition leader's statements caught President Uhuru unawares, prompting the president who spoke shortly after Raila to lash out at not only Raila but other speakers as well. The president used what analysts have deemed as inappropriate language, and his allies have come to his defence since, accusing Raila of introducing politics at what should have been a solemn event.

Today, Raila brushed out at Jubilee leaders who have claimed that the President was provoked or that Raila was being disrespectful of the president. In a statement he released from Heidelberg, Germany, where he is currently touring, Raila said he had raised fundamental issues touching on historical injustices that communities and individuals have suffered in Kenya and which needs to be brought to an end through the implementation of the TJRC report.

“Strangely, my challenge only sparked off a very strange rage from the President. The Jubilee administration is now claiming the President was provoked and that we are somehow disrespectful in raising this matter.

“I raised the TJRC issue as a matter of conscience. I did it as a duty to my country and as part of my deep belief that historical injustices have occurred in Kenya and they need to be addressed as recommended in the original TJRC report. I have no apologies on this matter and I promise to continue raising it”, he stated.

Raila's statement was in response to criticism by politicians over the public spat between him and President Kenyatta during Ntimama’s burial. Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said the exchange was “juvenile” and asked the two leaders to exercise restraint.

Mr Mudavadi said that leaders ought to conduct themselves with honour, taking issue with Mr Odinga for claiming that he had spoken to Mr Ntimama after he and other Maasai leaders visited State House.

Mr Odinga had said that during that telephone conversation, Mr Ntimama allegedly assured him that he was still in Cord.

“Why would you want to claim a closeness only the dead can be witness to?” Mr Mudavadi asked.

"It was also horrible to hear the President own up to corruption and chide those who aren’t partaking of it. The 'sisi tunakula nyama na nyinyi mnamwaga mate' wasn’t just in bad taste but shows that the President is actually justifying the 'it is our time to eat' mantra"'.

According to him, the President’s statement was a crude reminder of what Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the founding President, asked Bildad Kaggia.

“Uhuru was telling Kenyans, ‘I am eating, what are you waiting for? Join the gravy train'. Uhuru’s was an invitation for all of us to start stealing as a national pastime,"' said Mr Mudavadi.

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula also criticised President Kenyatta for bragging that only those in power were enjoying the national cake.

However, nominated MP Johnson Sakaja sided with President Kenyatta, but Suna East MP Junet Mohammed criticised President Kenyatta’s reaction.

“The President was right to put Raila in his place. It was very disrespectful for Raila to use such a solemn occasion to claim that the late Ntimama called him at night to tell him that he was still in Cord,” said Mr Sakaja.

In his statement from Germany, Raila downplayed the public verbal war between him and President Kenyatta, but avoided touching on the controversial telephone conversation with the late Ntimama after leading a delegation to State House for a meeting with President Kenyatta.

He however stood firm saying his sentiments at the burial and at the church service earlier were in line with the ideals the late Ntimama fought for all his life… the ideals of fairness, equity, justice and freedom…after decades of seeing the Maasai being dispossessed, tossed around and overran, first by the colonialists then by successive post-independence regimes.

” Many times in private, Hon Ntimama’s Iltaaroosero Clan, representatives of his Ilnyankusi age group and the Maa Community in general raised the matters of Maasai lands with me. It was important that as we buried Ntimama, we remind the national leadership of his unfinished agenda that must be acted on”, he said.

The TJRC report, Raila said addresses legal and institutional reforms; land reforms; tackling poverty and inequality as well as combating regional development imbalances; tackling unemployment, particularly among the youth; consolidating national cohesion and unity; transparency, protection of indigenous communities, addressing accountability and impunity.

This report has always been shrouded in controversy, he noted, adding, foreign members of the TJRC committee refused to sign it when some sections were expunged on instructions of some influential figures in government who were fingered by the report.

He expressed concern that, still, Jubilee remains uncomfortable even with the redacted report, hence the failure to table it for debate. 

The Opposition leader said the report is in the hearts of Kenyans across the country from Central to Rift Valley to the Coast and northern Kenya where land grabbing, massacres, disappearances, marginalisation and other injustices have occurred since independence.

That is why I reminded the Jubilee leadership particularly in Parliament that Kenyans are waiting for the tabling of the TJRC report in its original form and full implementation thereafter, he added.

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