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Nyachae warns against gagging debate on land

By - Updated Thursday, February 7th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By ROBERT NYASATO

Kisii, Kenya: Presidential candidates cannot be gagged from discussing land issues during their campaigns, Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC) chairman Charles Nyachae has said.

Quoting Press reports attributed to National Cohesion and Integration Commision (NCIC) chairman Mzalendo Kibunja and Inspector General of Police David Kimayio asking presidential aspirants to avoid land matters in their campaigns, Mr Nyachae said the caveats were unconstitutional.

Addressing a press conference in Kisii Wednesday, Nyachae said politicians were free to make land issues their subject matter in their campaigns.

 ?It is a legitimate political right of those campaigning to discuss issues touching on the Constitution - land included,” he said.

He warned against outlawing talk on land matters on grounds of being sensitive or emotive, adding that unemployment and integrity were equally critical matters but politicians were yet to be barred from highlighting them in the campaigns.

The chair said what should be of concern to the authorities is the manner in which the discussions are made, but so far nobody had violated the law.

It is completely unacceptable for anybody to seek to delegitimise land issues during this electioneering period,” he warned.

Nyachae said the utterances by NCIC and IGP were tantamount to creating problems where there was none. “This would greatly undermine the democratic process and fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.”

In recent days, presidential campaigns have been charged with Cord presidential candidate, Prime Minister Raila Odinga hitting at his Jubilee competitor, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta over land reforms.

Raila and his partners in CORD including his running mate, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Trade Minister Moses Wetangula have maintained Uhuru cannot be entrusted with initiating and implementing land reforms in the country due to perceived personal conflict.

But in response, Uhuru has challenged Raila to table evidence that he owns large chunks of land in the country.

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