Dangerous path: Ethnicity law
plan wins support
Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 3/8/2008
President Kibaki’s proposal to table laws curbing negative
ethnicity received praise.
The President in the State opening of the 10th Parliament,
proposed to the House a comprehensive policy that would ensure
national security and social cohesion were not threatened by
The President’s speech echoed ODM leader Raila Odinga’s sentiments
on a national conference on negative ethnicity, which he
recommended during a parliamentary group meeting.
Both leaders seemed to be reading from the same script as they
blamed hate speech for the violence that followed the December
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said the
announcement came at the right time since it would criminalise
Commissioner Hassan Omar said Kenyans did not bother about their
ethnicity, only that it was always aroused by politicians during
campaigns for general election. “This is a positive step and we
believe it will contain the ruthless manifestation of negative
ethnicity that we have witnessed recently,” Mr Omar said.
He said the commission had called for the criminalisation of hate
speech but most leaders seemed to ignore them.
He noted that some issues not finalised during the Lancaster
Conference, which granted Kenya independence, should have been
dealt with before growing into the recent crisis which set tribes
against each other.
Mr Omar said the commission was ready to advise the Government on
matters of law regarding the implementation of the legislation.
Imenti North MP Gitobu Imanyara said he was aware that a committee
from both PNU and ODM had been formed to look into the issue of
negative ethnicity and its implications.
He said due to lack of adequate resources some people were
favoured in acquisition of jobs. Noting that the best
constitutions were made during crisis time, Mr Imanyara, a lawyer
by profession, said the recent violence in several parts of the
country were a blessing in disguise.
He asked Kenyans to seize the opportunity to thrash out problems
that had been pending for a long time. “Nobody can run away from
his or her ethnicity ... we need to contain those who use it
negatively during the time of elections,” Mr Imanyara said.
He recommended that members of the committee to be formed to
pursue the agenda be those who had a clean record and had in some
way worked towards national cohesion.
The legislation to be created, Mr Imanyara said, should bring on
board and protect the interests of minority tribes.
While announcing the plans for the law, President Kibaki noted
that there was need for political leaders to assure Kenyans that
they can live, own property and do business in any part of the
country without prejudice, harassment or persecution.