President Uhuru Kenyatta has responded to the ultimatum issued by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy for the release of its six members held in police custody over alleged hate speech.
In an interview with journalists in Brussels, Belgium, where he is on a state visit, the president told the opposition to respect the court ruling that sent the leaders to the cells for four days and swore that he will not allow violence to erupt as long as he is president of Kenya.
Uhuru further said that he will uphold and respect the constitution but his government will not relent in dealing with those who spread hate, whether they are in the CORD or the Jubilee coalition.
“My message is that inciteful statements from whoever they come from will face the full hand of the law as long as I am president. It will not happen as long as I’m president. That you can take from me,” Uhuru said.
The president also delved into the demonstrations that have been held by the CORD over the removal of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners from office.
He said that he does not mind the demonstrations as long as they are peaceful as enshrined in the constitution.
Uhuru gave the example of the Monday, June 6 demonstrations where a matatu was torched in Mathare area of Nairobi.
He condemned the incident and warned that his government will deal with such incidents.
“I will uphold the constitutional rights of every Kenyan but those rights do not include incitement, destruction of property and lives. You can demonstrate freely but we will not allow any individual to infringe on the rights of other Kenyans. Incitement by politicians is what caused clashes between communities in 2007 and that will not be entertained.”
“I will do everything in my power as President to ensure Kenya never goes down that road. Regardless of who you are, no Kenyan will have an opportunity to incite another on the basis of religion and tribe. Kenya wants to move forward.”
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His warning came the same day the CORD issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the government to release the detained leaders or it resumes street protests on Monday, June 20.
Speaking after being denied access to see the leaders in their cells at Pangani Police station, the CORD leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula said that the leaders’ rights were being infringed on by the continued detention.
The CORD said that the leaders are held incommunicado.
“We will resume our national demonstrations on Monday, June 20. We will cease all engagements in dialogue in respect of IEBC and instead intensify protests,” a statement released by the coalition later on in the day read.
Eight politicians and a student leader were detained over hate speech. They include the CORD’s Johnstone Muthama, Junnet Mohammed, Timothy Bosire, Aisha Jumwa, Florence Mutua and Babu Owino and Jubilee’s Moses Kuria, Ferdinand Waititu and Kimani Ngunjiri.
Babu Owino was released Thursday, June 16, on a KSh 100,000 cash bail.
The leaders are expected to appear in court Friday, June 17, for the hearing of their case.