‘Prayer Rallies’ Putting Kenya on the Brink of Second PEV

Published on 20th February 2012

Ruto and Uhuru in a public prayer session  Photo courtesy
Even though Kenyans have no idea which date they will go to the polls, it is not in doubt that the country is an electioneering mood. Unlike the expectations of many, the country appears to be increasingly getting polarized along regional and ethnic blocs, the International Criminal Court, political party affiliation and the overzealous hatred for one political frontrunner.The country is also experiencing a frenzied hate speech craze by politicians and super intolerance. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka have organized a series of “peace/prayer rallies.” Unfortunately they are anything but peace and prayer rallies.

The rallies have turned out as forums designed to incite and extol tribal hatred and animosity. As to whether the Ocampo-4 require prayers is debatable considering that we have never held prayer rallies for the victims of the 2007-2008 post election violence (PEV).Utterances by politicians in the rallies not only contravene our law but also ICC conditions under, which the Ocampo-4 are walking free.

We all know how we landed at ICC. Now Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo is the latest target in the rallies with supporters of Uhuru and Ruto making statements laced with hate speech and incitement. In what appears to be a well rehearsed script, nearly all the speakers have stated that should the duo be barred from vying for presidency, then Kenya will not hold elections.

Sadly, the rallies’ speakers have made incendiary statements and at times insinuating that it was not the Ocampo-2 that were on trial, but their respective communities, which they said should unite to resist or defeat the ICC process which in turn they claim is the end product of NGOs working with the Prime Minister through the international community. One theme that has been clear in the rallies is the false narrative that civil society organizations (CSOs) and the prime minister are responsible for the woes facing the ICC suspects. A myriad thing can be discoursed over this grim turn of events.

Kenyans must not allow politicians to once again put the country on a PEV war path. Importantly, the president must come clean on the perceived  insinuation that he is an accomplice to this raving up of tribal animosity and hate by two individuals pitting their respective communities against the rest of the country.

It is amazingly shocking that Mzalendo Kibunjia and NCIC have been mute on this obviously actionable hate speech spewed all over. Unless Kibunjia is already acting on this in some form or fashion behind the scenes, which is doubtful, given the gravity of this matter, someone should shake Kibunjia, wake him up and promptly tell him he is sacked and the whole NCIC dismantled. What is its use if it cannot address this very flagrant violation of the law it is mandated to enforce in order to prevent a recurrence of PEV?

It is my informed view that the High Court should expeditiously dispose off the question of whether or not our constitution and laws of Kenya bar any of the ICC suspects from seeking the presidency because the delay is according the duo more time to continue the dangerous path they are on relative to peace and harmony in the country.

I believe that the mindless dragging of President Barrack Obama’s name into these reckless political schemes cannot be without legal or political implication, let alone the daring of peace loving nations as insinuated in these speeches. It is irrational for MPs allied to the G7 to take issue with UK Foreign Secretary’s Mr William Hague’s caution that Kenyans must mind the country’s international image in deciding Uhuru and Ruto’s eligibility for the presidency in the forthcoming General Election. They imputed ICC cases against the two were part of a foreign scheme to influence the outcome of elections for the country’s fourth President.

Truth be said, UK is an important development partner for Kenya regardless of whether ICC convicts the duo or not, whether Raila, Uhuru or Ruto become presidents or not. It is important to ensure political rhetoric does not impact our diplomatic ties with the community of nations.

It is the duty of the Kenya media to expose what is going on here. When people flagrantly lie that the Prime minister is responsible for these suspects to be at The Hague when everyone knows that to be false, the media has the ethical and professional responsibility to point that out.

We cannot be where we are today in terms of reform but for the convergence of like minded interests and none other than the CSOs have been key and central in the relentless push for reforms and one from its ranks now sits at the highest court of the land as its head. Do these politicians not care about that fact or are they convinced we are still living in the past where law or facts mattered not one bit in the eyes of the masters of impunity?

Uhuru and Ruto should step back for a moment and answer the question, is stopping Raila from becoming president worth shedding the blood, let alone death of a single person? Is their ambition to take the presidency regardless of how their quest further divides the country? Do the people of Kenya beyond their respective tribes mean anything to them? Of what good is it to seek a presidency to govern a country up in arms or flames or simply in total chaos? These are questions Uhuru, Ruto and those cheering them on must ask themselves, answer and act accordingly.

Regardless of whether or not they do so, the president owes the nation handing over to the next president, a presidency under a climate that at least demonstrates that  a replay of  the blood that was shed in 2007-2008;  property that was stolen or destroyed; displacement of people from their homes; rape and loss of human life should never occur again.  His failure to do so will seal his legacy in a manner no one wishes to be remembered in history.

While some say that President Kibaki doesn’t care about his legacy, I beg to differ for in the end, what President Kibaki does will impact how the next elections are conducted and concluded. The alternative is for the Kenyan citizenry  to override people who still believe they hold sway over public anger and resentment for being taken for granted and abused at will.

By Kasembeli Albert
The author akasembeli@yahoo.com is a Kenyan journalist based in Nairobi.

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