Ruto calls for peaceful referendum vote

Higher Education minister William Ruto addresses a 'No' rally at 64 Stadium in Eldoret town July 31, 2010. He called on Kenyans to peacefully participate in the referendum on the proposed Constitution. Photo/JARED NYATAYA

Higher Education minister William Ruto has called for a peaceful referendum process and said that he is confident Kenyans will reject the proposed Constitution.

He dismissed as "rumours" fears that there will be violence after the August 4 vote in various parts of the country.

"We are telling those spreading rumours and falsehoods about tension and issues of violence that Rift Valley and Kenya will vote at this referendum in peace," he said during a No campaign rally at 64 Stadium, Eldoret Saturday.

There have been reports of tension and anxiety in different parts of Kenya, especially those prone to violence following the now familiar pattern of intimidation and the distribution of leaflets threatening eviction.

A recent survey, conducted by Peace and Development Network Trust (PeaceNet Kenya) on behalf of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, identified 29 hotspots in different parts of the country.

They are: Mathare and Kibera in Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret,  Naivasha, Molo, Kuresoi, Kericho, Rongai, Bomet,  Bureti, Sotik, Trans Nzoia, Burnt Forest, Londiani and Uasin Gishu in the Rift Valley.

Other areas include: Mt Elgon, Lugari and Kakamega in Western Province, Borabu, Kuria, Mombasa, Muranga, Isiolo, Kisumu, Nyambene, Garissa and Wajir.

Conflict is likely to revolve around land, opposing views on the proposed Constitution and militias in those areas.

Internal Security minister George Saitoti has issued a stern warning against those threatening Kenyans.

“The government has a duty to protect all Kenyans. Security agencies will act decisively against those threatening Kenyans.”

Mr Ruto said that the fact that the No camp was campaigning against the proposed Constitution should not be misconstrued to mean that they were frustrating the efforts of Kenyans from getting a new constitutional dispensation.

"We want a new constitution and we agree with Yes that there a few flaws in the document. But we differ with them when they say we pass and then amend," he told the crowd.

"The constitution is not a newspaper that if it has bad things another one will be written tomorrow."

The Eldoret North MP said the No camp will remain unmoved and will stay the course to the end.

"We will remain steadfast until we win," Mr Ruto declared.

He took issue with the Yes camp for engaging Church leaders, whom he said have stated that the proposed Constitution is a bad document, in a fight.

"Engaging in a contest and disagreement between the spiritual and political leadership is the beginning of troubles in the country," he said.

Mr Ruto said that the No camp was firmly opposed to abortion and would not condone the "shedding of innocent blood of the unborn".

He told the No supporters that the issue of land was not a simple thing saying that during the tussle for the controversial Migingo Island between Kenya and Uganda, Parliament adjourned its sittings to discuss the issue as a matter of national importance.

"There was a lot of hue and cry because of nusu acre ya mawe (half an acre of rock)," he said in reference to the island that both countries had laid claim to.

"We will not entertain reckless clauses in the chapter on land because it is a recipe of bad things in the country."

He accused the Yes camp of calling them anti-reformists for opposing the proposed Constitution yet they were on the same side during the 2005 referendum.

"In 2005, when we said No they called us reformers, now that we are also saying No we have been tagged anti-reformers," he said.

Mr Ruto put the Yes proponents on notice saying that No will carry the day on the August 4 vote since "God" is on their side.

"I am telling our Friends in Yes that though they have government machinery and the goodwill of the international community, we have the people of Kenya and God.

We will prevail by the will of God."

Other leaders who addressed the No campaign rally included: Information minister Samuel Poghisio, Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, Joshua Kutuny (Cherengany), Charles Keter (Belgut), former Nambale MP Chris Okemo among others.

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