, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15 – The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) is warning Kenyans of the repercussions that socially divisive remarks by both religious and political leaders could have on the country as campaigns for the referendum enter the home stretch.
SUPKEM Secretary General Adan Wachu said on Tuesday that the 2008 post election violence culminated from the 2005 referendum campaigns and cautioned that if proper measures were not put in place there was danger of repeat violence.
Speaking at a forum organised by the National Integration and Cohesion Commission, Mr Wachu said Kenyans should steer clear of hateful campaign tactics as the country’s future was at stake.
“Negative ethnicity is absolutely suicidal. But positive ethnicity is good: huyu bwana ni mkikuyu, huyu ni msomali, mwarabu…nini. We’ve never had any problem with this but when we start discriminating against others based on their tribe or religion then there is nowhere we are going,” he said.
He further proposed that both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps hold joint post referendum peace rallies in the country to unify the country and help Kenyans accept the referendum outcome.
“Such rallies by both sides of the divide will help in cohesion and integration but we must also be ready to accept the results of the referendum without name calling or any other negative exchanges,” he said.
Interim Independent Electoral Commission Chairman Isaak Hassan, on his part, said Kenyans should remain harmonised regardless of the referendum outcome.
He asked Kenyans to respect the divergent views that cropped up on the contents of the proposed Constitution.
“Justice (Johann) Kriegler said 2008 will seem like a picnic if we don’t mend our ways. And it is my prayer that we don’t go back there. It is my opinion that politicians do better in their campaigns for or against the constitution. As a mature democracy we should be able to agree to disagree and proceed with the campaigns in a civilised manner,” he said.
Mr Wachu also asked Kenyans to respect the rule of law. He said that the government, religious leaders, civil society organizations and the country at large all had a part to play in containing hate speech.
“I have had quite a number of speakers saying what is happening to Kenya? But there is nothing happening to Kenya- there is something happening to Adan Wachu, you and everyone else. Unless we have respect for rule of law, where recognition of the sanctity of human life must be inculcated into our minds, then we are in trouble,” he said.
Mr Hassan also asked the Internal Security ministry to deal with all individuals who were inciting the public so as to prevent a repeat of the 2007 post election violence.