We should exercise political tolerance
The politics of violence has started rearing its ugly head. Kenyans have for the past month been treated to disruptive political activities in Migori while two people died yesterday after two groups clashed during a visit by Deputy President William Ruto to Muranga County.
A ward representative in Migori was injured after a fracas ensued at the assembly during proceedings to impeach the governor.
There have also been frequent acts of violence at the Nairobi County Assembly.
While we condemn the deaths, yesterday’s act is a poignant reminder of the dangers the country faces as we head to the next election.
No life should be lost due to political competition. We are concerned about what is emerging as systemic intolerance, which projects itself in the form of politically-instigated organised violence.
Members of the political class have been making inflammatory statement that are targeted to preach bigotry and incite groups against each other, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and laws.
Though Article 33 of the Constitution of Kenya provides that every person has the right to freedom of expression, this right is not absolute and cannot be used to violate the rights of others.
Section 77(1) provides of the Penal Code says that any person who does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any person to do any act with a subversive intention, or utters any words with a subversive intention, is guilty of an offence.
The Constitution also places particular responsibility on state officers.
Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity provides that public officials must act in manner that demonstrates respect for the people and brings honour to the nation and dignity and integrity to the offices they occupy.
That is why we are concerned about the conduct of individuals in leadership positions who are using their positions to incite unemployed youth to violence.
It is noteworthy that addressing violence during elections is one of the issues being discussed by Kenyans under the Building Bridges initiative.
Youth unemployment was also among reasons cited for the 2008 post-election violence that pushed the country to the brink.
A section of politicians were blamed for inciting the youth to cause chaos.
While we encourage the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to step up and stem rising cases of hate speech, we call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of inciters.