Mixed reactions after Atwoli disagrees with Raila over remarks of Ruto turning Kenya into dictatorial state
Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli is slowly shifting from his script to supporting President William Ruto’s government or so it seems.
This has lent the trade union boss to real criticism and is currently on the receiving end of a now awkward Twitter moment after he disagreed with Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga about Ruto being a potential dictator.
Atwoli while speaking on Saturday, November 26 was not cautious while opposing Raila Odinga saying Kenya is far from being an authoritarian regime.
“We are not a dictatorial state, we are nothing near there yet,” Atwoli disagreed with Raila.
He said the Head of State is nurturing free speech in the country and that to him is a healthy democracy.
“Those who are saying Ruto is a dictator are leaders at political space, let them talk because that is what they fought for,” he opined.
“This current government has promoted free speech, the president has not castigated anyone for criticizing him. Let people say what they want to say but we are not a dictatorial state and they should make sure their remarks do not upset the peace we are enjoying now.”
This has however spurred mixed reactions online with most calling the man who had fashioned himself as a deft leader who spoke on behalf of Raila for his double standards.
"Trying to be relevant, ok. Look back and see what you’ve said about WSR. Shame on You," Kabogo called Atwoli out.
On his part, Kakamega town MP Peter Kaluma wrote: "Atwoli knows how Iddi Amin started."
Raila Odinga's take
Raila Odinga had called out Ruto's government after a parliament committee summoned the four IEBC commissioners famously known as “the Cherera Four”.
Addressing the media at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices, Raila, Kalonzo and Karua warned of a sustained fightback if Parliament proceeds with its plan to investigate the four.
The leaders said the decision by the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to summon the commissioners would be vehemently opposed.
The four commissioners, led by Cherera, the IEBC Vice Chairperson, rejected IEBC’s declaration of Ruto as the winner of the August 9 election, claiming the tallying of the presidential results was opaque. The four also filed affidavits supporting Azimio’s unsuccessful petition challenging Ruto’s win at the Supreme Court. A number of petitions seeking their removal have since been filed before the Senate and the National Assembly.
Raila claimed the Legal Affairs Committee was being used by the ruling administration to go after the four for rejecting Ruto’s win.
“The injustice being inflicted on the four IEBC commissioners, if it proceeds as currently conceived, will mark the beginning of a massive pushback against Ruto and those who think like him, by the people of Kenya. We will openly and robustly lead that pushback,” Raila said.
He defended the four saying they had not been found culpable of any electoral malpractice. He instead redirected blame to Chebukati who, he said, was the only one indicted by the Supreme Court.
“The Ruto administration wants to take us back to the Nyayo regime of the 1980s. We want to sound a warning that no one should lie to this regime that we will sit back and watch a return to the Nyayo regime by another name,” Raila added.
Karua, who was Raila’s running mate in the elections, said the committee’s actions were politically motivated. According to her, it was an attempt to block Cherera, the IEBC’s vice-chair, from running the commission once Chebukati retires early next year.
“This witch-hunt in Parliament is intended to prevent the vice-chairperson from taking over as provided for by the law,” she said. Kalonzo, the Wiper Party leader, said the hearings were politically motivated. Hearings resume on Monday when the team reconvenes.