ODM leader Raila Odinga on Monday said that Kenyans have a right to express their views during the Building Bridges Initiative meetings.
Allowing Kenyans to freely express themselves is the only way to form a strong foundation for the country’s democracy, he said.
Raila spoke during the funeral service of Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata’s father, Joseph Kang’ata, at Mumbi Catholic Church.
“For those saying Kenyans are insulting each other, let them. Someone once said that I may not agree with what you have to say but I shall defend and protect your right to say it,” he said.
” This process is not here so that I can be the President but for the posterity of Kenyans. Let’s have a democratic conversation where everybody gives their views,”
Raila was responding to leaders allied to the Deputy President William Ruto, who said BBI rallies were taking a tribal dimension.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro had earlier said Kenyans have a right to settle and own property in any part of the country.
“We will not take kindly that a leader can use a public forum to say that some communities should go back to their ancestral regions,” he said.
Ndindi was referring to Narok Senator Ledama Kina’s comments that outsiders who buy land from Maasais should not subdivide it and should be apolitical in the region.
Nandi Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said Narok is a cosmopolitan town and making such statements could result in chaos.
Cheruiyot said it was necessary to steer the BBI debate back to its intended purpose of uniting the country.
But Raila said the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and him is aimed at ending hatred among Kenyans. “This process is not here so that I can be the President but for the posterity of Kenyans. Let’s have a democratic conversation where everybody gives their views,” he said.
“Just because someone said something, will the nation come to an end tomorrow?”
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria asked the former Prime Minister and the President to organise a summit where leaders will help tame the rallies.
The summit, he said, will bring leaders together and give direction on how the BBI process will get back on track.
“The BBI process requires hygiene and good order so as not to be taken astray,” he said.
Transport CS James Macharia, who represented the President, urged politicians to ensure they focus on development even as they engage in the BBI debate.
“As we discuss the report, we want the unity of our people, sacrifices and we want development. With that, all the other things will fall into place,” he said.
Former Presidential candidate Peter Kenneth said expansion of the executive should be clearly defined to stop confusion.
Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen said Ledama’s sentiments that were made during a BBI meeting are some of the issues tainting the BBI process.
“Kenyans are not tribal. It is politicians that drive the tribal conversation which we must stop to unite the country,” he said.
He emphasised that leaders should respect the President but added that Deputy President William Ruto should also be respected as part of the presidency.
Siaya Senator James Orengo said that Kenyans must be allowed to vote for the President saying a few people cannot be allowed to make that decision on their behalf.
“The confusion is in restructuring the Executive which simply means taking the Executive to Parliament so that the Cabinet will accountable to the people, Parliament and the President,” he said.
He reiterated the need for all leaders to respect the President as the holder of the Constitution saying the country’s – sovereignty rests with him.