NAIROBI Wed Dec. 14 – The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has cautioned against hate speech, especially during the election period next year. Speaking at a media workshop in Nairobi, the commission’s chairman Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia said the next general election will be tough following the enactment of the new election laws.

“In 2007 it was not a crime to spread hate speech today if we find a person who will be perpetuating such he is viable to be punished by law,” said Mr Kibuja, adding that that the first elections under the new constitution will be much tougher as many laws have now been put in place in to curb malpractice. “This time round the election process will not be conducted in the ordinary way,” said Dr Kibuja.

He warned that the appropriate measures must be taken early enough to prevent a repeat of 2007 election debacle.“This election will be very tough, for there will be transition of power meaning there will be a cut throat competition and therefore there is need for us to be vigilant and report anything which can bring in chaos,” he added. At the same time the chairman said that his Commission has signed a memorandum of understanding with service providers like Safaricom and Communication Commission of Kenya to monitor election progress.

Speaking in the same meeting Information Secretary Ezekiel Mutua urged all the stakeholders to join hands or peaceful and fair election. “The media alone cannot guarantee free and fair election we need all the stakeholders to come together in order to deliver,” said Mr Mutua, who urged journalists to be fair, bold and frank without taking sides in the next election.

“Many of the media stations concentrate much on the side show stories and drama instead of the main thing. We need to change the tradition and instead give airtime those who are selling their policies soberly and give blackout to those who spread ethnicity.”

He further said that 2007 post election violence was fuelled much by irresponsible journalism. “You need to know that the new constitution article 34 has guaranteed you protection,” he told media and urged the Media Council and the concerned department to start taking measures to regulate opinion polls.

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