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Govt wants stiffer penalties for poll crimes

NAIROBI, July 11 – Electoral violence crimes and political incitement could become capital offences in Kenya if recommendations by the government to the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) are approved.

The State said it planned to introduce stiffer penalties to deter perpetrators and avoid a repeat of what was witnessed in the country after the disputed Presidential results.

A report containing the recommendations was tabled at the Justice Philip Waki-led commission on Thursday by Internal Security and Provincial Administration Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia.

"My Lords, this is one the recommendations we have made to avoid a repeat of what took place in the country," he said.

Once approved, politicians found guilty of inciting their supporters to violence could be handed life sentences or even convicted to hang.

This could also apply to political supporters who commit other electoral offences like blocking roads or disrupting political meetings and other gatherings convened during electioneering periods.

The recommendation comes amid raging debate on the fate of suspects arrested over the post election violence with a section of politicians calling for amnesty.

Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali earlier told the commission that some of the suspects had been charged and many of them bonded to keep peace.

Many others arrested for murder, rape and arson among other serious offences are in remand awaiting trial.

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The amnesty debate threatens to split the fragile coalition government with many politicians allied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) demanding the unconditional release of thousands of youths from police custody.

President Mwai Kibaki has maintained that suspects will not be granted amnesty.

Other recommendations the government intends to undertake include reviewing laws governing the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

"We intend to increase the number of police officers in the country," Kimemia further told the commission.


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