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Campaigns hot up in Msambweni as NCIC rein in on hate speech

By Philip Mwakio | November 23rd 2020 at 14:43:59 GMT +0300

Wiper candidate Sheikh Mohamud displays his nomination certificate to vie for Msambweni by-election in Kwale County. Nine Candidates have been cleared by IEBC in Msambweni by-election. The seat fell vacant after the death of the late Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori on October 17, 2020.[Omondi Onyango, Standard]

A human rights group has raised a red flag over what it calls heightened online hate speech, bullying and stereotypical messaging that has marred the Msambweni by-election campaigns.

On Monday, Human Rights Agenda (Huria) said noxious messages sent through the internet to either supporters or candidates in the campaigns were on the rise.

Huria said it had documented social media messages shared in various Facebook groups and personal accounts that could instigate violence and ethnic hatred.

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The organisation has written to Chairperson of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NICC) Dr Samweli Kobia to investigate the perpetrators.

Huria Chief Executive Officer Mr Yusuf Lule declined a request to share some of the cases in the report with Standard Digital.  

"We have handed over the report to NCIC to investigate and we cannot share it with the public. But the internet and whats-app groups are awash with a hate crime," said Lule.

Huria now wants the NCIC to take action against the "internet warriors" attacking opponents and establish whether they are hired by candidates in the by-election.  

"We write to bring to your attention grave concerns of hate speech and stereotypical messaging propagated in online and social media platforms in the midst of the Msambweni by-elections in Kwale County," states a letter by Mr Lule to NCIC.

Mr Lule said the electoral environment should be on a level group to guarantee a free, fair and peaceful election.

"Huria has been conducting online and offline monitoring of the campaigns ahead of the by-elections. Huria has noticed with concern the growing cases of hate speech and stereotypical messaging propagated in online and social media platforms," said Lule.

Deputy President William Ruto [centre] shakes hands with his allies at his office in Nairobi. He has endorsed Feisal Abdalla Bader [2nd left] to face off with ODM candidate Omar Boga in Msambweni by-election. Picture taken on October 13, 2020. [File, Standard]

He said the organization monitored message content in consideration of Article 33 of the Constitution and Article 13 of the NCIC Act No 12 of 2008.

The Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) has cleared ten candidates to vie for the seat in the by-election to be held on December 15, this year.

Campaigns hot up

ODM candidate for Msambweni by-election Omar Idd Boga. [File, Standard]

This comes as parties mount campaigns as the by-election date nears.

Over the weekend, Mombasa Governor Hassan Ali Joho led ODM leaders to campaign for the party candidate Omar Boga.

Joho who is also the ODM Deputy Party leader called on the Msambweni residents to vote for Boga, who he marketed as the handshake candidate.

Boga's fierce rival, Feisal Bader, who is running on an independent ticket and backed by Deputy President William Ruto, also traversed the area with campaigns.

His campaign was also bolstered by Jubilee leaders from Mombasa who are on the DP's camp. Mr Bader said he will double the bursary allocation if elected Msambweni MP.

Bader who served as the former Mswambweni MP Suleiman Dori’s personal assistant said if elected he will complete all the projects initiated by the late.

Unlike in the past weeks when the candidates held door-to-door campaign or holding meetings in the social hall, the candidates held rallies.

Yesterday Mr Bader attended a service at the P.A.G church in Diani. Bader is also backed by Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and his deputy Fatuma Chai.

Last week, Mvurya criticised Joho saying his combative brand of politics will not allow the latter to make Kwale a battleground.

"We allow them to come just like any other tourist. Kwale is not a sub-county of Mombasa. it has its leaders," said Mvurya, during the bursary distribution at Ukunda grounds.

On Friday, Joho promised what he termed as a battle starting today (Monday) to make sure that ODM retains the Mswambwni seat.

Others in the race Mr Mansury Kumaka (independent), Mr Charles Bilali (Independent), Dr Khamis Mwakaonje of United Green Movement, Mr Sheikh Abdurahman Mahmoud (Wiper Democratic Movement and Mr Ali Hassan Mwakulonda of the Party of Economic Democracy.

The only woman in the race is the former Msambweni MP Wamwachai of the National Vision Party after independent candidate Sharlet Akinyi withdrew to support Boga.

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