Gloves are off in battle for Kenya presidency
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