No special treatment in hate speech purge, says President Kenyatta
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Jun 16 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday warned he would not allow Kenyans to be divided along tribal lines and said those who sought to do so ahead of the 2017 General Election would and should face the full force of the law.
President Kenyatta was reacting to the arraignment in court of three of his party legislators in an ongoing hate speech probe and demands by Opposition leader Raila Odinga that five Opposition MPs held alongside them on similar claims, be released.
“The issue should be that person be given fair hearing as demanded by the laws of natural justice enshrined in our Constitution to be able to say whether what he said was or was not inciteful or not. So if we’re to demonstrate, we’re to demonstrate because that person was not being given full hearing. But we should not be allowed to go and say oh, huyu ameshikwa kwa sababu ni supporter wa fulani. And then we want to go and demonstrate to release him and don’t follow due process.”
Opposition leader Odinga had earlier in the day demanded the release of Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire, Busia and Kilifi Women’s Representatives Florence Mutua and Aisha Jumwa.
He made the demand at the Pangani Police Station where he’d gone to visit with the MPs being held and described their detention on the court’s orders pending a ruling on their application for bail, “a gross violation.”
President Kenyatta whose own MP Moses Kuria for Gatundu South is also being held for incitement together with Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri and Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu was however insistent that the law must apply equitably and that the jurisdiction of the courts should not be interfered with.
“We cannot allow an issue which ultimately can blow up to be a major issue to go ignored. It can explode and burn our country. We have to be able to nip this in the bud. It is true and I will say it. We all know that the problems that we had in 2007 was a result of inciteful statements by politicians that led to clashes between communities, people who lived together as neighbours. Statements that incite Kenyans against each other, instil fear will not be allowed should they come for CORD or Jubilee and those that choose to walk that path will face the full face of the law and that’s the way it’ll be so long as I am President.”
The above mentioned MPs will return to court on Friday for a ruling on whether they will be released on bail.