Nairobi -- Police in Kenya have arrested an assistant government minister and two MPs over hate speech claims, as tension mounts ahead of a planned constitutional referendum on August 4th.
The three arrested, MPs Fred Kapondi, Joshua Kutuny and assistant minister for roads Wilfred Machage, are all accused of making inflammatory remarks last week.
Mr Machage and Mr Kapondi allegedly threatened Kenyans with bloodshed, evictions and religious wars if the proposed constitution is passed, with Mr Machage telling residents of Nairobi they would have to give way for the Maasai, who initially owned the plains where the city now stands before colonialists drove them away.
“If the media reports of what they said are true then what they said amounts to hate speech, for which culpability will have to be found,” said George Kegoro, executive director of the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists. “The violence that followed the elections in 2007 didn’t come from nowhere. People were worked into a frenzy by hate speech. So we can live in denial that it has no effect, or we can confront it when it happens.”
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