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Mwakwere, Muhuri in fresh showdown

By - | October 7th 2012

By Tobias Chanji

A row has broken between Environment minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere and a Human Rights lobby that recently dropped accusations of hate-speech against him.

Mwakwere is now accusing Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) of engaging in a witch-hunt following reports that it might revive the allegations it had previously abandoned.

When Muhuri dropped the claims it had made, the case against the minister was dropped. The minister had on his part made a public apology and signed up to be a peace campaigner.

Mr Khalfan Randani, a close ally to the minister who was part of the negotiations with Muhuri accused the agency of betraying Mwakwere.

Reinstate charges

Mwakwere was acquitted on September 18, two days after signing an agreement with Muhuri pledging to preach peace and apologised for his July 1, 2010 remarks against Arabs and Swahili that landed him in court.

The agreement and acquittal split Muhuri’s Board of directors. The Board chairman Munir Mazrui wrote to the Director of Public Prosecution, Keriako Tobiko to reinstate the charges, alleging Muhuri’s agent in court on September 18 misled the magistrate leading to an acquittal.

Mwakwere who met several leaders including civic leaders at the Jacaranda Indian Ocean Beach Resort in Diani admitted to receiving a copy of the letter seeking to restart the charges “with surprise” because he had solved his differences with Muhuri.

“To my understanding, we had resolved the case with Muhuri. I apologised and went to court for the charges to be dropped which the judge did,” says Mwakwere.

And he claimed there is politics in the change of tune.

“May be it is a political target,” he added and disclosed that he will call a meeting for “a major announcement,” confirms 

‘Huge mistake’

Muhuri is now demanding the reinstatement of the charges in a letter to Tobiko dated September 26. The board member says officials of Muhuri met five days after the acquittal of the minister and resolved that it was a ‘huge  mistake’ to drop the accusations they had made against the minister.

In his letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, Muhuri noted that although it held an emergency meeting with the minister on September 23 and resolved a conciliation, it did not intend, nor did it want  the proceedings against Hon Mwakwere withdrawn.

Mwakwere was acquitted of hate speech charges on September 18, two days after conceding making hate remarks against Arabs and Swahili and apologising to Muhuri and all Kenyans in general.

Revive trial

But now Mazrui claims some miscarriage of justice was done on September 18 when its “representative” went to court, to apparently withdraw Muhuri’s complaint that sparked the minister’s prosecution.

He claims the alleged representative was never instructed to withdraw the matter and urges the DPP to revive the minister’s trial and also threatens to pursue different legal options, including private prosecution, in order to ensure that justice for the public is done.

“Having perused the court file, the Board would like you, as provided for under section 87 (a) to reinstate the charges against Mwakwere and proceed to full trial,” he says in the letter.

Mazrui’s letter appears to be a complete turn around from the events of September 16 when he shook Mwakwere’s hand at the conclusion of the apology.

Now independent accounts indicate the Board of directors which includes lawyer Maina Kiai and Human Rights advocate Khelef Khalifa, both former Kenya National Commission of Human Rights activists was deeply split over Muhuri’s dalliance with the Matuga MP and the secret negotiations aided by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) that led to the minister’s public apology and agreement.

On September 16, Mwakwere and Muhuri, Executive Director Hussein Khalid signed a conciliation agreement in which the minister, apologised for his remarks against Arabs and Swahili and promised to preach peace in Coast province and other parts of Kenya.

Internal audit

Human rights activists criticised the apology and acquittal claiming it amounted to double standards before the law and that the agreement and acquittal amounted to a defeat of justice.

The negotiations (leading to the agreement and apology) between Muhuri and Mwakwere’s entourage, which also involved NCIC, split Muhuri’s Board of directors, a division that widened after the acquittal.

The County Weekly learnt that the agreement compels the Matuga MP to be monitored by the Human Rights Agency for a year.

Speaking to press in Mombasa after signing the peace agreement, a humbled Mwakwere declared profusely that “these are my apologies for the remarks I made during the by-elections in Matuga in 2010” and proceeded to heap praise on the Human Rights Agency-Muhuri- that sparked his legal troubles of the remarks describing it as “an esteemed organisation fighting for human rights at the coast region and the republic of Kenya as a whole.”

Besides Munir and Khalid, others present during Mwakwere’s apology were former Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) vice chairman Mr Hassan Omar and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) chairman Prof Abdulgafur El-Busaidy.

Outgoing NCIC chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia did not attend the signing but was in the same Mombasa hotel when the apology was made.

But  Mazrui claimed the Board is conducting an internal audit to determine what happened in court  when its representative withdrew Muhuri’s complaint that triggered the minister’s prosecution.



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