National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale was on Thursday embroiled in a storm after video clips circulating on social media appeared to show him talking loosely about terror attacks.
The recordings show Mr Duale addressing a rally in Nairobiâ€™s Eastleigh neighbourhood where police have launched a security swoop following a series of grenade blasts.
Thousands of people, mainly ethnic Somalis, have been rounded up in the mop-up that has crippled business in the shopping suburb.
The video shows Mr Duale asking those behind the terror attacks in Eastleigh to stop doing so as they were hurting the interests of local traders.
Speaking in vernacular, Mr Duale says: â€œWe Somalis of Kenya… We invested our money in Eastleigh. This is where our economy is based.â€
He adds: â€œEastleigh is our umbilical cord. You must arrest anyone who is spoiling Eastleigh â€” even if he is Adan Barreâ€™s brother. Those who are detonating explosives in Eastleigh should do it elsewhere. Had the one who is detonating explosives here done that in Machakos, do you think the people of Eastleigh would have been harassed?â€
The Saturday rally, attended by more than 20 politicians, was called following the latest attack on two restaurants in which six people were killed and scores of others wounded. (READ: Traders count losses over Eastleigh crackdown)
On Thursday, one Eastleigh resident reacted with fury to his comments.
â€œDuale is sending a message to terrorists that it is OK to detonate bombs elsewhere as long as it is not Eastleigh,â€ the man, who did not want to be named for security reasons told the Nation.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Duale over the controversial video were unsuccessful as he did not respond to our phone calls and text messages.
However, his utterances are likely to give his critics fresh ammunition to demand his removal from the Jubilee government.
At the Eastleigh rally, Mr Duale threatened to withdraw support for the Jubilee government over what he termed arbitrary arrests of â€œmy people.â€
The security dragnet is intended to identify undocumented migrants and refugees who have run away from camps in northern Kenya. There have been complaints that police have been indiscriminate in rounding up all those without papers, including Kenyan Somalis.
Mr Duale, ranked high up in the government pecking order, was the first such official to publicly criticise the security operation.
The crackdown was launched after President Kenyatta gave people with illegal weapons an ultimatum to surrender them in his State of the Nation address last week.
â€œWe stand by the interests of our people. There should be no doubt about that,â€ Mr Duale said at the rally in Eastleigh attended by over 20 MPs and Senators from North Eastern, Coast and Upper Eastern regions.
Police, he said, were targeting Muslims. â€œWe were elected by the Muslim community and we shall defend their interests,â€ he said amid chants from the charged crowd.
â€œIt shall no longer be business as usual. We shall not and will never allow our people to be discriminated against,â€ Mr Duale declared.
His utterances attracted harsh reaction from fellow Jubilee MPs who dared the United Republican Party MP to leave his role as Majority Leader.
Led by Kigumoâ€™s Jamleck Kamau, the MPs said they were dismayed by what they termed as Mr Dualeâ€™s reckless utterances. â€œIssues on security affect us all and it has neither boundary nor region,â€ Mr Kamau said.
They said other Jubilee MPs were ready to take up his position in Parliament since as the Majority Leader, he is supposed to articulate government position and policies in the House.
In a rejoinder from Turkey, where he accompanied President Kenyatta on an official visit, Mr Duale told off his critics, declaring that his position was negotiated between The National Alliance and United Republican Party.
â€œDo they want us to clap when our people are being discriminated against?â€ he posed.
WHAT HE SAID
â€œYou are not refugees in this country. Seventy per cent of this country â€” North Eastern belongs to you. There are no Somalis in Uganda. Somalis do not live in Tanzania. But Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya belong to us.â€
â€œEvery leader is elected by an ethnic community. The President was elected by a community and so was the Deputy President. They will not accept their communities to be oppressed. I, too, will not accept my people to be oppressed. That is my pledge.â€
â€œWhat I am telling you now is what Uhuru or Ruto would have told you.â€
â€œThere will be no refugees who will be repatriated. The government voluntarily signed the Geneva Convention.â€
â€œTwenty or 30 years ago we used to be called Shifta. Today, a Somali woman is Kenyaâ€™s Foreign Minister. Forty per cent of students at Kenyaâ€™s universities are Somalis.â€
â€œEighty per cent of the fuel trade in this country is managed by Somalis. Eighty per cent of all goods imported into the country is done so by Somali businessmen. (Real) Estate developments are run by Somalis.â€
BY the NATION