Kaparo may be named to head cohesion commission

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FORMER National Assembly Speaker Francis ole Kaparo is set to take over as chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission. Kaparo is one of 32 individuals shortlisted for interview by the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs of the National Assembly.

The interviews for the NCIC commissioners started yesterday, with former chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia, his vice-chair Milly Lwanga and commissioner Alice Nderitu being interviewed.

Fatuma Mohammed, also a former commissioner, has been scheduled to appear before the committee today for interview. Yesterday, journalists were locked out of the interviews.

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Also to appear before the committee, chaired by Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga, will be Kaparo, former TJRC chairperson Tecla Namachanja and former Teso MP Albert Ekirapa.

However, Kaparo is favoured to lead the NCIC, owing to his closeness with the powers-that-be, and the ongoing interviews are considered by most a formality.

Kaparo is a member of Deputy President William Ruto’s URP and is one of those who got nothing during the Jubilee administration’s first wave of appointments to the public service.

He was initially linked to the position of Speaker of the Senate, but was bypassed and David Ekwee Ethuro given the position instead. In recent months, Kaparo has led five former MPs allied to Jubilee in expressing their frustration with the failure by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto to reward them with State jobs as per pre-election promises made in 2013 and before.

The others in this group are former Environment minister Ali Mwakwere, Njeru Githae (Finance), Sam Ongeri (Foreign Affairs), Eugene Wamalwa (Justice) and Kiema Kilonzo (Mutito MP).

The six have been meeting informally to express their disgust with the Jubilee leadership for failure to recognise their contributions to the 2013 General Election campaign.

At one point the group even planned to attend a Cord rally in Tononoka Grounds, Mombasa, as a way of expressing their displeasure with both Uhuru and Ruto.

Kaparo is the chairman of the Marsabit Peace Restoration Committee, formed by President Kenyatta to seek ways of returning normalcy to the conflict-ravaged county.

The appointment was at the time considered to be a harbinger of his eventual posting to chair the NCIC. The term of the Kibunjia-led commissioners expired in September last year. But the government has been reluctant to make fresh appointments on the grounds that the law was too weak and requires strengthening.

The Kibunjia team were appointed in 2008 soon after the enactment of the NCIC Act, but no one has been fined or sent to jail even though cases of hate speech and racial discrimination have been on the rise.

Wilfred Machage, the Migori Senator, former Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi and former Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny are the only individuals who have been charged under the law on crimes related to hate speech and incitement to violence – for offences allegedly committed during the 2010 constitution referendum campaigns. However, they were all acquitted for lack of evidence.

The Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunity and National Cohesion has cross-membership from both Houses of Parliament and is chaired by Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja. However, the committee has done nothing to review the law.

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