NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 22 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission on Thursday reassured Kenyans that it would be impartial in carrying out its mandate during campaigns for the forthcoming referendum.
NCIC Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia said the commission would deal with complaints of discrimination on ethnic and race grounds.
“As an honest broker and arbiter, we seek a cohesive roadmap towards a peaceful referendum which will involve talking with all Kenyans irrespective of their point of view.”
He said: “As a Commission we have no Yes or No as regards the proposed Constitution. We therefore urge all Kenyans to exercise tolerance during their discussion and remember that rights given in the constitution come with responsibilities.”
The NCIC is the first official attempt to inculcate a spirit of nationhood at a time when an upsurge in ethnic tension is expected should perpetrators of the post-election violence be taken to The Hague for trial.
“It will also facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of the different ethnic and racial communities of Kenya,” he added.
Vice chairperson Mary Onyango said that they would publish the names of individuals and media organisations and summon those who perpetuate ethnic hatred to retract their statements.
“As we conduct our affairs towards the referendum, we will actually name and shame those who are perpetuating hate speech or inciting ethnic, racial and religious intolerance among Kenyans because we really intend to go through the referendum as cohesive country,” she said.
The commissioners were reacting to reports that the commission might be used to intimidate those calling for the rejection of the proposed Constitution.
Ms Onyango said that they would continue monitoring the media particularly the vernacular stations which were blamed for stirring ethnic tension during the 2008 post election violence.
Mr Kibunjia affirmed that the organisation was committed to developing national values outside the Constitution such as patriotism, hard work, self-drive among others which should be exposed to Kenyans from an early age.
The commission was set up after President Kibaki assented to the National Cohesion and Integration Bill, 2008 in December last year.