Police probe three leaders over election chaos claims in Kenya
Deputy Police Spokesperson Charles Owino (right) during a news briefing by the media monitoring committee at Teleposta Towers, Nairobi August 29, 2012. He is with Director of Public Communications Mary Ombara. Ms Mary Ombara said police investigations were at an advanced stage and action would be taken against the leaders. Photo|FILE|NATION MEDIA GROUP
By ZADOCK ANGIRA , Posted October 3, 2012
Police are investigating three senior politicians over allegations of plotting election-related violence in Nyanza, Coast and Western regions.
The politicians, including a presidential aspirant, allegedly plan to use militia groups to attack supporters of their rivals to prevent them from voting.
Two groups named ‘‘American Marines’’ and ‘‘China Squad’’ are active in Kisumu county, the National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring said on Wednesday.
The groups are made up of jobless youths who are being given handouts by the politicians. Ms Mary Ombara, the committee’s spokesperson said police investigations were at an advanced stage and action would be taken against the leaders.
Last week, the American Marines group raided a police station in a bid to free a member who had been detained. The two groups initially fought for the control of the Kisumu bus terminus but were increasingly being used by politicians.
American Marines was in charge of the terminus before the emergence of China Squad. One of the politicians, who is also a presidential aspirant, is said to have used China Squad to organise a rally in the county.
Though police have vowed to wipe out the groups, they are still causing terror in Kisumu. Nyanza police boss Joseph ole Tito on Wednesday said the situation was almost back to normal after five members from both groups were arrested and arraigned in court.
Ms Ombara also warned parties against political adverts likely to degrade and humiliate opponents. She said similar adverts in the media were partly responsible for the 2008 post-election violence.
“We trust that this time round, all political advertising outlets will be sensitive to the silent but charged emotions in the country,” she said.
The committee said all politicians who incite people should be prosecuted, and supported DPP Keriako Tobiko for his action on Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu.
Mr Waititu has been suspended from his assistant minister’s position and charged after he incited violence against Maasai watchmen in Kayole, Nairobi last week. He is out of custody on a cash bail of Sh1 million. (READ: MP Waititu freed on Sh1m cash bail)
Ms Ombara said the Waititu case was partly responsible for a sharp decrease in hate speech incidents in the past one week.
“The committee also noted a sharp decrease in the reportage of hate speech and incitement in the mainstream media and use of social media to spread such messages,” she said.
Similarly, there is marked awareness by Kenyans of the consequences of hate speech following the decisive action on politicians.
Cabinet minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere escaped prosecution after he publicly apologised for remarks he made during by-election campaigns in his Matuga constituency.
The committee warned that the country was also grappling with the menace of organised crime. The Mungiki group is re-emerging as well as other groups at the Coast.
Last week, 15 people were killed during a confrontation between villagers and youths alleged to have been taking oaths in Kaloleni, Kilifi county. Police have said they are prepared to deal with the emerging groups.
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