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Reject attempts to restore oppression

Attacks on independent voices, intimidation and intolerance are clear signs of a country steadily and systematically sliding towards authoritarianism and dictatorship.

Events of the past week have thrown us back to the dark days of the oppressive Kanu regime and are a notice to Kenyans to keep vigil and guard against a relapse to that era.

The government launched a crackdown on human rights organisations as it sought to deregister the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Africa Centre for Open Governance (Africog).

The two groups have been vocal against governmental excesses and were reportedly keen to file a petition against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.

PUBLIC RAGE

But the State’s move was met with public outrage, forcing acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to intervene and suspend the clampdown.

On Sunday, human rights activist and lawyer Maina Kiai was detained at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, en route to the Czech Republic in an apparent continuation of the onslaught on the independent voices.

He had to call Immigration Director Gordon Kihalangwa to intercede to enable him to travel.

Notably, this was just few days after Electoral and Boundaries Commission official Roselyn Akombe was also detained and stopped from travelling to the US and had to seek the assistance of the American embassy before she could be allowed to proceed. 

WORRYING PATTERN

The pattern is worrying and Kenyans have to be alarmed. It is particularly disconcerting that this is happening in this day and age; when the country is operating under a progressive Constitution with an elaborate Bill of Rights.

It took blood and sweat to remove the despotic regime. Many lives were lost, limbs battered and property destroyed.

Those sacrifices were not in vain, and anyone seeking to return us there must be resisted.

Those in authority must live to the reality that times have changed. We abhor and condemn this emerging trend of intolerance and suppression. Attempts to intimidate independent voices to acquiescence are doomed and unacceptable.

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