Alliances that ostracise tribes illegal

February 8, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 8 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on Tuesday reiterated its warning to politicians bent on forming tribal unions at the exclusion of other tribes in the run up to the 2012 general elections, saying such alliances are illegal.

The commission\’s Vice Chairperson Mary Onyango said the NCIC would ensure those found guilty of propagating  such ideologies were held to account as they undermined national harmony.

According to the National Integration and Cohesion Act, such alliances border on hate speech which attracts a five year jail term, or a Sh1 million fine or both. 

"The law is there and it is not the commission that came up with it. It was made by parliamentarians, the very same politicians, who are now forming ethnic alliances. So we are only reminding Kenyans of what already exists," she quipped.

The commission which explained that it wanted to forestall future tribal alliances further accused the Attorney General of frustrating its efforts to enforce the law on hate speech.

Ms Onyango said the AG had periodically failed to take appropriate action, as recommended by the NCIC, on individuals found guilty of hate speech.

The AG is yet to give directions on the hate speech case against Trade Minister Chirau Makwere, despite promising to do so last year.

"There is separation of power for any democracy to work. You cannot invest prosecutorial powers and investigative ones with the same body. Our work as a commission is not to hound and punish people," she said.

The NCIC however declined to reveal the names of persons it was investigating for hate speech and instead promised to give a detailed report on a later date.

"We don\’t conduct those processes in the media; those are processes that are conducted in-house because they might at some point end up in court. So we have to make sure that we follow due process and we will communicate when the time comes," she explained.

The Commission also warned the media against publishing and broadcasting utterances made by leaders which might divide Kenyans along social lines. She asked the media to self-regulate and ensure that they promoted peace at all times.

Ms Onyango further urged Kenyans to shun any politicians who played the tribal card to propagate their agenda.

"The call for alliance between leaders from the Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Kamba communities that started a couple of years back, popularly referred to as the KKK, has drawn much debate and it is likely that it won\’t be the only one in the build up to the general election," she argued.

She added that the commission was also exploring alternative ways of resolving dispute aimed at fostering cohesion.

"One of them is bringing to the attention of Kenyans what their responsibilities and what the law requires of them so that people can make sure they comply with the law. We are not really in the business of getting people behind bars," she said.

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