Wednesday, June 18, 2014

RUMOURS ABOUT DETENTION OF POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE NO BASIS

The single-party era is gone perhaps never to return; Daniel Arap Moi, who is usually blamed for having plunged Kenya into a dictatorship is no longer the President; and detention laws that saw many people sent to prison for long periods of time no longer exist.

That is why I was astounded by the absurd rumours circulating in the social media speculating on the possible arrest and detention of CORD leader Raila Odinga soon after President Uhuru Kenyatta had appeared on television to explain the Mpeketoni massacre.

The politically-savvy Kenyans had interpreted the reported deployment of additional security personnel to some parts of Nairobi such as Kibera and Mathare; and to parts of Western Kenya such as Bungoma and Kakamega, as evidence that an arrest was indeed imminent.

The rumours had some semblance of credibility because the areas chosen for the reported deployment are generally perceived to be CORD strongholds. The chorus therefore was that security personnel were deployed there to contain possible demonstrations expected to follow the arrest.

There is no provision under the constitution for arbitrary political arrests and detention without trial. A definite charge under the Penal Code has to be preferred. So unless, Raila and other opposition leaders commit an offence of a criminal nature, no one can touch them.

The only thing the CORD brigade has to do is to be careful in their utterances because charges such as incitement have broad interpretations and could be used to lock them up.

But having said that, I am at a loss - like many Kenyans - over where our country is headed to. For close to a year, our biggest concern has been terrorism and how to deal with it. Indeed, more than one hundred people have been killed through terror acts.

However, we now seem to be crossing over to a sensitive territory in which some of us are talking about "ethnic profiling" and "ethnic cleansing" in relation to the Mpeketoni killings, the kind of language used during the 2007/2008 post election violence and during other tribal clashes before that.

Those were also the same phrases that took Rwanda through a protracted civil war. I don't think we Kenyans want to go there.

After dozens of attacks blamed on terrorism in various parts of the country and a huge loss of lives and destruction of property let Mpeketoni be the last. But to achieve that we all need to pull together as a nation and not be distracted by political, tribal or religious differences.

That is why I feel strongly that Raila should - despite his determination to continue - cancel all the remaining political rallies and find other less confrontational avenues of airing his views.

And that is my say.