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A moment of silence for Kenya’s 2017 elections, please

Duncan Khaemba was wearing a navy blue Kevlar vest when police in Kibera, Nairobi, arrested him during purported protests after the declaration of results in Kenya’s presidential election.

Despite his employer obtaining a licence for reporters to wear the Kevlar, the cheek of a television reporter wearing a bulletproof vest in public suggests that he might have been at risk of being shot.

Such is the kind of irresponsible journalism the government has been battling against, especially when police repeatedly and forcefully argue that their bullets were not used in the deaths of 28 people, among them a nine-year-old girl, as reported by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

On August 12, 2017, the Inspector General of the Police, Mr Joseph Boinett, sent out a message on WhatsApp at 10.36pm to all divisional police commanders.

He acknowledges that police had used “deadly force only when absolutely necessary in the face of extreme provocation”.

Although he reminds officers to stick to the law, he alerts them “to be conscious that someone could be taking photographs of their actions, either still or video — that could be used to commend or even for adverse legal action”.

GOSPEL CONCERTS

Such is the shortage of footage that television in Kenya has been replaying cartoons and gospel concerts, appeals for peace and encouragement for people dissatisfied with the results to go to court.

Unfortunately, the National Super Alliance presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, took that joke seriously and acted on it.

It is not the gentlemanly thing to do, as his worthy competitor Uhuru Kenyatta has pointed out.

President Kenyatta argues that since his Jubilee Party’s candidates won more races for governor, senator, woman county representative and member of the National Assembly than Mr Odinga’s Nasa, the opposition guy should just throw in the towel and shake hands on the election.

In the meantime, the business of law and order continues apace. The head of the NGOs Coordination Board looked at the Kenya Human Rights Commission, which has tended to produce election observation reports that do not come from the same hymn book used by the international community, and found that it had expatriates working illegally in Kenya.

COURT ORDER

Were it not for a court order, the NGO Board would have shut KHRC. Alongside that, the Africa Centre for Open Governance, whose executive director filed a petition seeking to overturn the 2013 General Election, has trouble with its taxes and needed to be shut down.

Last week, a commissioner with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Dr Roselyn Akombe, was prevented from leaving the country for the United States for 10 hours.

Dr Akombe, a United Nations employee in the Department of Political Affairs on special leave to work for the IEBC, was apparently sliding out of the country without the written permission of the government.

Another UN person, former Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association, Mr Maina Kiai, was prevented from taking a flight to Amsterdam for two hours until the head of the Immigration Department intervened.

These UN people need to be watched very closely.

RECEIVED PAPERS

The Supreme Court has now received papers filed in respect of the presidential election petition. Although the Judiciary website has uploaded the petition together with 14 affidavits and two certificates, the Supreme Court’s president has cautioned media and ordinary folk against talking carelessly about something that is reserved for the sagely consideration of seven judges.

But more worrisome are individuals like Dr David Ndii, economist and Nasa technical advisor, publicising a petition that calls for some communities to secede from Kenya. Kenya is a land of peace, and quiet. Nobody is leaving.

A guy who kept saying the 2017 election was tamperproof was buried last weekend after his body was found in a thicket. Let’s observe a long moment of silence for the election that has just ended peacefully.

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Police had used “deadly force only when absolutely necessary in the face of extreme provocation”.

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