Kenya's cohesion chair worried by hate speech, but what to do?

Saturday June 17 2017

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairperson Francis ole Kaparo at his office on June 8, 2016. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairperson Francis ole Kaparo at his office. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By FRED OLUOCH

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has neither financial muscle nor the human resources to deal with hate speech and inter-community clashes, even as the chair, Francis ole Kaparo, continues to raise the alarm over increasing risk of election-related violence.

“We have a leadership that believes that a cohesive nation is against their political interests,” said Mr Kaparo told The EastAfrican.

With the political temperatures rising, foreign diplomats in Kenya on Thursday called for a peaceful and free elections.

The heads of mission from the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Finland and the European Union, after meeting officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, said that they welcomed the pledge for “peaceful and credible elections,” by President Uhuru Kenyatta, opposition leader Raila Odinga and the voters.

Government security agencies have mapped counties such as Narok, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu , Nakuru, Nairobi and Kajiado as having the potential for election-related violence.  

A number of politicians have been taken to court over hate speech, but their cases are either pending or have been terminated due to lack of evidence.

The Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko said his office has 105 prosecutors to work with NCIC and IEBC to stem hate speech. He said that 57 cases involving 97 candidates in the August 8 elections are before the courts.