Kenya unions’ boss cited over incitement

July 29, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR )now wants action taken against trade unionist Francis Atwoli and several lawmakers for allegedly making inciting statements during the ongoing referendum campaigns.

The MPs accused of wrongdoing are Cyrus Jirongo, Adan Duale, Mwangi Kiunjuri, James Rege, Wilfred Machage, Charles Keter and unnamed religious leaders.

The chairperson of the KNCHR Florence Jaoko said that although most of the statements did not amount to outright hate speech, they had the potential to cause violence since they malign people and communities in the opposing camps.

“At a rally in Kitui, Mr Atwoli was captured referring to persons in the No camp as murderers who ought to be avoided,” said Mrs Jaoko.

The chairperson reported that at a meeting in Garissa, the organisers allowed a traditional troupe to sing a song containing lyrics saying that “we will fight all who are against the new Constitution.”

“Mr Duale was captured asking the residents of the area to curse former President Daniel Moi and not to allow any No supporter entry into mosques,” said Mrs Jaoko.

In its first referendum monitoring report released on Thursday, the Commission also indicted President Kibaki for enticing citizens through the creation of new districts in Garissa and Kisii and the elevation of a teacher’s college to a university.

“These actions contravene provisions of the Districts and Provinces Act No. 5 of 1992 and the recent High Court ruling that declared unconstitutional, all districts created after 1992,” the KNCHR states.

She said the Commission had video footage of the various meetings where the inciting statements were made. She added that the Commission had monitored over 80 meetings organised by politicians, religious leaders and the Committee of Experts.

The report identified Molo, Kuria, Kwanza, Sotik/Borabu boarder and Aldai as hotspots where ethnic tensions are high.

Mrs Jaoko further said by using senior civil servants and state resources to campaign for the proposed Constitution, the government was interfering with the referendum. She said the involvement of civil servants in the campaigns was in contravention with the Public Officers Ethics Act.

“The Commission demands that all those serving in political-public positions cease and desist using their offices and resources entrusted to them to promote the government’s campaign agenda,” said the chairperson.

The Interim Independent Electoral Commission had earlier urged the government to withdraw the civil servants from the campaign trail but President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga defended their involvement saying it was within the civil service mandate to explain government policies like the Constitution.

The Commission accuses Ministers Franklin Bett, Dr Sally Kosgei and Prof George Saitoti of abusing their offices by promising various development initiatives to residents if they vote Yes during the referendum.

Mr Bett was accused of promising new roads for Kajiado and Dr Kosgei for promising farmers in the same area that she would table a Cabinet paper seeking to write off their debts if they vote Yes.

MPs accused of distorting the proposed Constitution include Mr Odinga, Mr William Ruto, Dr Naomi Shaban, Dr Machage, Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, former Voi MP Basil Mwakiringo and Catholic bishops.


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