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All should tone down political rhetoric before it is too late

By The Standard | Published Tue, June 20th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 19th 2017 at 23:36 GMT +3

Utterances by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga during a campaign stop in Kajiado last week have kicked up such a fuss; one would think the sky is about to fall down. Predictably, Jubilee's top brass has jumped in, calling for Odinga's arrest for what they see as a call to purge the cosmopolitan county of 'foreigners'.

Depending, there are those who find Odinga's comments a case of leader incitement. Already, officers from the National Cohesion and Integration Commission are on the case. If, after investigations the incitement claim is confirmed true, Odinga should face the law. Conversely, if he were to be found innocent, for misrepresenting the facts; the Jubilee brigade led by Deputy President William Ruto, Leader of the Majority in Parliament Aden Duale and Cabinet Secretary for Interior Joseph Nkaiserry should be held culpable for whipping up emotions for no reason at all.

Matters of land are highly emotive in Kenya. Using land as a campaign gimmick is not only crass, it is ill-advised, and politicians should know better. With about 50 more days to go before the August 8, it is becoming apparent that something little could tip the balance. God forbid. So far, all indications are that leaders who should be preaching peace and national unity during this delicate campaign period have thrown caution to the wind in their quest for advantage over opponents.

Rather than sell their ideologies, leaders, and not just any leader, but those at the very top on either side of the political divide are finding satisfaction in scoring off each other. These personality attacks have a way of grating on loyalist followers with disastrous results. Leaders must tone down their rhetoric and compete on a platform of progressive ideas. If the 2008 post-election violence that claimed 1300 lives and displaced over half a million others did not serve as a good deterrent for war mongers, the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which almost 800,000 people died, should make leaders pause and reflect on where they want the country to go.