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NCIC to act on tribal tag in new alliance

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has opened an inquiry into the tag KKK, after getting complaints that it was being used to portray three key politicians as tribalists.

The commission\’s chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia told Capital News in an interview on Thursday that he had convened a special meeting to discuss the matter after receiving petitions on the tag from Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

He said the commission was concerned about the implications of the tribal tagging and promised to take measures within the confines of the law within two weeks.

"We did not want to step in at the beginning because then we would have shut Kenyans (from expressing themselves) but now looking at what is coming through the media… this is a bad idea," he emphatically stated.

"We are concerned that this idea is going in the wrong direction where we are tagging communities and almost putting one community against the other."

The announcement that Mr Kalonzo, Mr Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto have formed an alliance ahead of the 2012 poll has been described as a unity pact for the Kamba, Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities.

The VP and the DPM on Wednesday asked the commission to prohibit the use of the tag saying it portrayed them as tribalists which amounted to hate speech.

Mr Kalonzo said his rights had been violated by those associating him with tribalism. He singled out unnamed leaders whom he accused of using the term to malign him and gain political mileage.

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"This amounts to hate speech. Anybody using this tag is basically asking Kenyans to hate these fellows," he complained. 

Mr Kenyatta in his letter to Mr Kibunjia said the continued use of the KKK tag was against national unity, cohesion and integration. He said the branding of certain leaders as KKK was divisive because it purported to bring together some communities to the exclusion of others.

Speaking in Kakamega last weekend, Mr Ruto hit back at those branding their alliance KKK saying it has the support across the country. He said they would soon demonstrate that their alliance was national.

"It is always good to have ideas debated then we agree as a nation whether it is a good idea," said Mr Kibunjia in the interview.

Mr Kibunjia pointed out that they wanted to respect the freedom of speech in the country even as they carry out their mandate. He said the commission must ensure that it was not oppressive.
"There is a very thin line between hate speech and free speech. There must be restraint in the commission and only come in when we think certain discussions are going in a dangerous direction," he affirmed.

The NCIC chairman promised that the commission would be more vigilant to curb hate speech and ethnic talk in the run-up to the 2012 elections.

"The strategy which we want and we have tested is early warning early response," he said.

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