Kenya

Igathe to Somali community: Sorry, my remarks were taken out of context

Nairobi Jubilee gubernatorial candidate Polycarp Igathe took his campaigns to Nairobi’s vote-rich Eastlands as he rallied residents to back his candidacy.

This as he clarified that his statement of Friday about cartels in Nairobi that was misunderstood to be targeting the Somali community was taken out of context.

Making stopovers in Embakasi Central and Embakasi East constituencies, Mr Igathe urged residents to come out in their numbers on August 9 to vote for him and other Azimio candidates as he called for peaceful campaigns.

He said his focus will be ending water and garbage problems, creating a conducive business environment and improving education standards.

He said these plans would not succeed without a serious war against cartels in Nairobi that he said have taken over the capital.

“If you vote me in, then I assure you that I will deal with cartels who have taken over Nairobi. We cannot allow only a few people to control Nairobi. I did not say the cartels are the Somali community,” said Mr Igathe.

Offering his apology, Mr Igathe said he has deep respect for the Somali community and values their support and is looking forward to partnership with them to make Nairobi a better place to live and work in.

For that reason, he said, he would not negatively profile the community.

“I would like to say that if the broader Somali community or anyone was hurt or inadvertently offended by comments made in the context of engagements on the campaign trail, I am sorry for any such offence or hurt,” said Mr Igathe.

“In-fact, I take this opportunity to assure the entire Somali community in Nairobi and beyond that they have a friend in me.”

The former Nairobi deputy governor made it clear that he did not profile the Somali community as harbouring cartels in his speech to members of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).

This follows a viral video of him accusing Nairobi MCAs from the Kikuyu community of being held hostage by three Somali MCAs he didn’t name, who he said control the city county assembly.

The remarks caused uproar among leaders from the Somali community, with former National Assembly majority leader Adan Duale claiming Mr Igathe was profiling communities for cheap political expediency.

“I wish to respond to these genuine concerns by clarifying that my comments were not focused and should not be understood to be about individuals, but about equitability of access to services and opportunities for work and economic benefits in the city of Nairobi,” Mr Igathe said.

He said the comments echoed sentiments his campaign has heard from small-scale traders, business communities, service providers and residents of the city, including the Somali community.

The calls, he said, were made in every area he has visited from residents of informal settlements including Kibra, Mukuru and Mathare to business communities in Gikomba, Nyamakima, Eastleigh and others.

He said residents wanted political leaders in the city to create opportunities for everyone irrespective of their educational, geographical, religious or ethnic backgrounds.

“My comments are therefore only about seeking a more equitable platform for all Nairobians to enjoy services and economic opportunities,” he said.

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