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Kenya Government holding leaders to account is laudable

OPINION
By The Standard | June 16th 2016

The general consensus among Kenyans is that hate speech must never be allowed to gain traction. It is anathema. We can have our political differences because that is what democracy is all about, but at all times, the interests of the country must take precedence. That is why Tuesday’s arrest of eight legislators from both sides of the political divide charged with utterances that could provoke the public to violence is a welcome move.

Jubilee legislators Moses Kuria, Ferdinand Waititu and Kimani Ngunjiri are now charged with making utterances that could easily inflame passions leading to the breach of peace.

On the other hand, Opposition MPs Timothy Bosire, Junet Mohammed and Aisha Jumwa, Johnstone Muthama, Florence Mutua are also charged with giving ultimatums and threatening to take the law into their hands. All the eight legislators will spend another day in police cells. It must feel really awful for the honourables to spend a second night in police confinement. But if it is the least price to pay for peace, then so be it.

The swift action by the police in arresting the leaders and charging them with incitement gives hope that the wheels of justice, in line with constitutional provisions, are finally turning.

The culture of recklessness among politicians must be firmly dealt with. Yet by themselves, arrests are not enough. There have been previous cases in which the suspects walked away with nothing more than an admonition to keep peace which they ignored soon as they left the court's precincts.

And even as the axe falls on combative leaders, there are those, especially on social media, who derive pleasure from insults and threats. Policing social media is not easy but the police have demonstrated they can bring some of the culprits to book and those initiatives should be stepped up. As we head into the 2017 electioneering period, let the key words be harmony and reconciliation.

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