State piles pressure on Omar to quit

December 15, 2011 2:43 pm


KNCHR Commissioner Hassan Omar Hassan/ FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – The government has asked Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Commissioner Hassan Omar Hassan to resign as a row over allegations of hate speech picked up speed on Thursday.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said Omar had contravened the expectations of promoting peace in the country and chosen divisive utterances along ethnic lines.

He added that Omar should not continue serving in his position as he has already tainted his representation of tolerance.

“It is quite a shock that a commissioner of a constitutional body in our country would voice an opinion that paints one tribe negatively in a way that creates intolerance. We call upon the commissioner to do the honourable thing, to step aside and even better resign for he has violated the Constitution,” he said.

Omar last month authored a newspaper commentary criticising President Kibaki’s record.

“Apart from some expanded roads with flyovers and an economic growth index, Kibaki’s legacy reflects an unacceptable institutionalisation of ethnicity,” Hassan said.

“The leadership of the country’s security apparatus is almost exclusively from Kibaki’s ethnic Kikuyu,” he added in the November 26 article.

But Mutua said the utterances were not only divisive but also a shocker that Omar would use such words citing the post election violence experienced in 2008 and blamed for negative ethnicity.

“It is for lack of better words, flabbergasting, shocking, amazing, astounding and scary that a commissioner of Human Rights actually promotes views that can be understood to promote tribal differences,” he charged.

Mutua said the remarks in his article were sending a wrong message owing it to the position he holds of defending people’s human rights.

He continued; “We should ask ourselves, if the defenders of human rights are promoting division and intolerance, who will protect the innocent children of our country?”

On Tuesday Omar was grilled by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission over allegations of hate speech in the article.

But he maintained that his article was factual and did not in any way attack any particular group in the country.

A political activist Moses Kuria made a complaint against Omar over a newspaper article which he said portrayed Kikuyus negatively.

Kuria claimed that Omar’s article also affected the rights of his community to take part in politics.

In his article, Omar wrote; ‘It is highly unlikely that Kenya’s next President would be a Kikuyu.”


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