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Kenyan Prime Minister Raila MPs Accused of Insulting Language

Published on Saturday 31st July 2010

PRIME Minister Raila Odinga has been named among the politicians making "unsavoury, derogatory and insulting" remarks during the campaigns before referendum on the proposed constitution on August 4.

An annex in the report prepared by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights also pinpoints MPs Fred Gumo (Westlands), Bonny Khalwale (Ikolomani), Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu Town West), Charles Keter (Belgut), Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera East), Wilfred Machage (Kuria) and Yes youth representative Ombima for uttering "unsavoury, derogatory and insulting comments".

The 37-page report, titled Taking Stock: Interim Report on Referendum Monitoring, was released by KNCHR chair Florence Jaoko-Simbiri at her office in CVS Plaza, Kilimani, yesterday. The monitoring was carried out between May 22 and July 29 by 40 officers in 80 constituencies.

Another annex highlights examples of deliberate distortion and misrepresentation and picks out five instances by Higher Education minister William Ruto, two by Wilfred Machage, and one each by Kiema Kilonzo (Mutito), Special Programmes minister Naomi Shaban, and Raila.

"We remain concerned at the escalating incidents of threats, and use of insulting remarks. Such language only serves to demean and intimidate individuals to abandon their beliefs and 'conform' in order to avoid being subjected to public ridicule and odium," said KNCHR chair Jaoko.

"We demand that those campaigning for and against the proposed constitution desist from uttering words that are likely to inspire hatred and incite the public to violence. We also call as on the police to take action against those involved in incitement as there are adequate legal provisions that provide a framework for them to take action," Jaoko said.

The KNCHR report noted "growing tension and persistent issuance of threats in region such as Kuria, Molo, Aldai, Tinderet, Muhoroni, North Mugirango (Sotik/Borabu border), Kwanza and Eldoret West".

Commenting on the abortion debate during the campaigns, Raila reportedly said, "Kuhusu mimba kazi ya wanaume ni sekunde mbili ... wadunga halafu ... (regarding pregnancy, a man's role takes two seconds ... they conceive and then ...)," a statement the commission deemed insulting.

In Kakamega on June 26 at a Yes rally, Gumo allegedly said, "Enock Kibunguchy (former Lugari MP and gynaecologist) amesema kazi yake ni kupima wanawake, kuangalia, kushika na mikono na kuwachia hapo tu ...

ingekuwa Jirongo (Lugari MP) angewachafua (Enock has told you that his job is to examine women, observe with his eyes, touch them with hands and leave it there ... if it were Jirongo, he would have his way).

Khalwale allegedly said, "Sorry Moi, Ruto and Jirongo. Your No is not about abortion or Kadhi courts. It's about land ... we are coming for you land grabbers and take back our land." Shakeel reportedly said, "Hao ni warongo...wasaliti...mashetani..washindwe ..., YK92 is the Aids of Kenya...the Constitution will sort out YK92".

The report also pinpoints Cotu boss Francis Atwoli referring to persons in the No camp as "murderers who ought to be avoided by those who attend their rallies." The report charges that at a No rally in Chwele on July 9, Jirongo said, "Luos like shedding blood and they are ready for anything" and that clergy at the rally claimed the proposed new constitution was "satanic".

On July 11, at a Yes rally in Garissa, the report continues, organisers allowed a traditional dancing troupe to sing a song containing lyrics, "waan ladagaaltamenya wixii kasoo horjeysta datstruunkan cusub," meaning they will fight all who are against the new constitution.

Local MP Aden Duale (Dujis) allegedly asked residents at the rally to curse former President Moi and to deny No supporters entry into mosques.

"Our findings based on video and audio recordings not only document political leaders but as well show that some religious leaders have joined the bandwagon to inflame emotions," said KNCHR commissioner Hassan Omar.

The report says that residents at Kalaha in Kwanza have abandoned their homes to flee to locations they consider safe.

"The commission has received credible reports of verbal threats, intimidation and also circulation of threatening leaflets, with other credible reports from Kuria that witchcraft is being used to threaten voters to vote on a certain position," the report says.

"This is a clear negative tactic aimed at displacing supporters of a certain camp to deny them their fundamental right to exercise their will through the ballot," Omar said.

The report recommends that relevant authorities act urgently to guarantee security for Kenyans to exercise their freedom of assembly and expression.

The commission calls on those campaigning for or against the proposed constitution not to deliberately misrepresent the contents of the proposed constitution, and blames a lack of civic education for the confusion.

The KNCHR faults government "misuse of state resources, abuse of power and incentives to sway votes". It particularly highlights the use of parastatal vehicles to transport Yes supporters, and the encouragement of civil servants to campaign for Yes.

"This is not only contrary to the Public Officers and Ethics Act but serves to give undue advantage to one side of the campaign," the report reads.

The media were also accused of favouring the Yes campaign.

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