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THERE ARE NO NO-GO ZONES IN DEMOCRACY

Raila, Uhuru should uphold Ruto's right to visit Kiambu

Every Kenyan has an inherent, constitutional right to visit any part of Kenya without discrimination

In Summary

• When Ruto was told not to go to Kiambu again unless he is accompanied by President Uhuru Kenyatta, I wondered whether that county was still a part of Kenya.

• Kenyans have not forgotten that before the March 9 handshake, Raila Odinga was 'banned' from visiting parts of Mt Kenyan, while President Uhuru Kenyatta was unwelcome in many parts of Western and Nyanza.

DP William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and AU envoy Raila Odinga.
DP William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and AU envoy Raila Odinga.
Image: FILE

I have no personal reason to defend Deputy President William Ruto as a politician but I have every reason to defend his right to visit Kiambu and any part of Kenya anytime and without hindrance.

When Ruto was told not to go to Kiambu again unless he is accompanied by President Uhuru Kenyatta, I wondered whether that county was still part of Kenya or some independent territory where the DP and some other people will need visas to visit. Which Kenyan has the power to bar another Kenyan from visiting any part of Kenya?

There are privileges and rights the Constitution guarantees to every Kenyan and protects all without discrimination.

Every Kenyan has an inherent right to visit any part of Kenya. Freedom of movement is a constitutional right. Ruto and indeed all of us have the right to travel to any corner of Kenya in any capacity except to commit a crime, and this must be defended except by those who wish to destroy and dismember Kenya.

In the past, some of us who were considered enemies of Kanu, the government and the president were considered persona non grata in Kenya until the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1992. So, if we have been denied this right before, there is still the risk of this happening again.

I am thus not just defending Ruto’s rights, but our own as well.

Kenyans have not forgotten that before the March 9 handshake, Raila Odinga was 'banned' from visiting parts of Mt Kenya, while President Kenyatta was unwelcome in many parts of Western and Nyanza, where he was considered an enemy.

In this case, Raila must stand for Ruto’s rights, instead of remaining silent.

The ire we now see directed at Ruto by Team Kieleweke was directed against Raila until he shook hands with Uhuru and they became political friends, brothers and partners. The handshake not only opened doors for each other’s embrace but also to political regions for each other.

So, even if Ruto did not support Raila’s right to visit any part of Kenya, the ODM leader should see the need to defend the DP’s right to visit Central Kenya or Nyanza. Only when Uhuru, Raila and Ruto come forward to defend Kenyans’ right of movement, including their own, shall we know for certain that they will unite Kenya when either becomes president, which I seriously doubt.

 

For now, it is unwise for Raila not to defend Ruto just because he never defended him prior to pre-handshake.

We defend Ruto’s right of movement not because we intend to vote for him in 2022 but because our right to vote or not vote for whomever we want will be abrogated if his right to come to our areas and campaign is denied. Indeed, Kenya will unravel and be destroyed if this right is denied. This will be the beginning of the end of Kenya.

If you defend Ruto’s rights, I believe he shall also defend yours whenever you want to visit areas where he is politically strong. Only this reciprocity in respecting mutual rights will protect Kenya from dismemberment by those who are politically intolerant.

The right to free movement must, however, go with the right to vote freely without Ruto’s supporters demanding repayment of political debts from Kikuyu voters in the Rift Valley.

Since this dangerous game of barring Kenyans moving around is being done in the name of Uhuru, he should forbid the issuance of these travel warnings because they are giving him a bad name. It is also his constitutional responsibility to protect Kenya from those issuing statements that limit people’s freedom.

Kenya cannot afford to go back to 2007 and 2008 and earlier times of ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley in pursuit of ethnic, political and personal interests.

Ruto’s right to visit Kiambu is penned here not to support his campaign for president but in defence of our basic and democratic rights of movement, association, thought and assembly. Aluta Continua.