Kenya Police Say Politicians Facing Court on Alleged Hate Speech

  • Six accused of using inflammatory language to be arraigned
  • Investigations body notes ‘disturbing trends’; says impartial

Kenya’s police said six politicians accused of hate speech will be arraigned in court Tuesday, as a national commission vowed to tackle “warmongers and inciters” of all affiliations before elections next year.

The politicians, who include members of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, were either taken in or voluntarily attended police premises in the capital, Nairobi, to record statements after they were accused of using inflammatory language, Ndegwa Muhoro, head of Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations, told reporters in the city.

“We have been witnessing some disturbing trends from politicians,” Muhoro said. “We will go for all regardless of political positions. We are not taking sides in our approach -- we are apolitical.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who teamed up with one-time rival Deputy President William Ruto to win power in 2013, will seek a second term in August 2017 elections. Former premier Raila Odinga, who leads CORD, poses the biggest political challenge to Kenyatta in next year’s ballot. Political tensions have increased in East Africa’s biggest economy since CORD began a series of weekly protests in April to demand an overhaul of the country’s electoral body.

‘Double Standards’

CORD said it would stand by four of its lawmakers facing charges of hate speech. “Opposition leaders see double standards and a game of favorites on the so-called crackdown on hate speech,” the coalition said in an e-mailed statement.

Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission will take action against “warmongers and inciters,” Chairman Francis Kaparo told reporters, speaking alongside Muhoro. “Impunity must not be allowed to reign in Kenya.”

“Society has elevated these warmongers to a higher pedestal,” he said, without specifying who he was talking about. “If not reined in they will destroy this country.”

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