Gloves are off in bat­tle for Kenya pres­i­dency

Saturday Star - - NEWS -

NAIROBI: The pres­i­dent calls the chief jus­tice a cheat. A law­maker de­nounces the head of the op­po­si­tion as the devil and says he needs a whip­ping. The op­po­si­tion leader ac­cuses the pres­i­dent of mak­ing a pub­lic speech while drunk.

The gloves are off as Kenya’s rul­ing party and the op­po­si­tion bat­tle for votes ahead of new elec­tions, ten­ta­tively sched­uled for Oc­to­ber 17 by the Supreme Court af­ter it voided last month’s pres­i­den­tial re­sults.

Last Friday’s his­toric de­ci­sion, the first of its kind in Africa, was wel­comed by many as a rare sign of in­de­pen­dence from Kenya’s ju­di­ciary. It means vot­ers will again have to choose be­tween Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, 55, and veteran op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga, 72.

But oth­ers feared that af­ter a rel­a­tively peace­ful elec­tion cam­paign, it could open the door to po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, re­viv­ing mem­o­ries of the vi­o­lence that fol­lowed a dis­puted 2007 elec­tion when more than 1 200 peo­ple died.

“Af­ter the ver­dict by the Supreme Court… I’m wor­ried about the up­surge of hate dis­cus­sion amongst Kenyans,” said Fran­cis Ole Ka­paro, chair­per­son of the Na­tional Co­he­sion and In­te­gra­tion Com­mis­sion, the gov­ern­ment body in charge of pre­vent­ing hate speech. “As of yes­ter­day morn­ing we were in­ves­ti­gat­ing 273 cases of hate-mon­ger­ing in the so­cial me­dia.”

They had less than a third of that num­ber for the whole 10-week cam­paign pe­riod lead­ing up to Au­gust 8 elec­tions, he said.

Law­mak­ers from both sides are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. – Reuters

Uhuru Keny­atta

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