Kenyans on Twitter call for politician’s arrest

Internet

Kenyans on social media are demanding the arrest and prosecution of an assistant minister who was caught on camera calling for the eviction of members of the Maasai community from one of Nairobi's estates.

Kenyans on Twitter want Ferdinand Waititu, who is also a member of parliament, charged with incitement and hate speech for comments he made Monday afternoon sparking unrest and protests.

Waititu who wants to run for Nairobi governor seat in the next elections, is still at large despite both the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and minister for Internal Security issuing orders for his arrest.

"We don't want to see any Maasai here in Kayole. And to all people who employed Maasai, to sack them with immediate effect." said Waititu in a video recorded by local media.

A video posted by broadcaster NTV shows Waititu making the comments in the presence of police officers. Waititu was addressing irate members of the public who were angered by the killing of a youngster, allegedly by guards from the Maasai community for stealing a chicken in Nairobi's Kayole estate.

Hundreds of social media users have in the last 48 hours used the hashtag #ArrestWaititu to condemn the ministers comments and criticise authorities for failing to arrest and charge him.

"#Waititu should lose his parliamentary seat and go straight to Guantanamo Bay Jail 4 life without trial!! He is a DISGRACE!,” wrote Eliud Kirui via Twitter.

“There is a charge known as incitement to violence. Waititu must be arrested, and charged tomorrow. If not, lets conclude that the law favours,” tweeted Francis Gachuri.

Social media users have raised concerns over the use of hate speech by local politicians that could instigate violence in the next elections with some drawing comparisons to Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

Waititu's party, TNA, and its presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta - who is also facing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the 2008 post election violence- was also criticised for failing to suspend Waititu from the party.

“If TNA believes in the rule of law they should suspend Waititu. What do you expect when the party leader is ICC suspect. #ArrestWaititu,” wrote Karani Mutonga.

Andrew Alovi added : “Aljazeera are running a documentary on the Rwanda genocide. Meanwhile Waititu is still Water Assistant Minister under Uhuru's ( Kenyatta) party.”

Waititu's comments come at a time when Kenya is preparing for the March 4, 2013 general elections, the first presidential election since the 2007 poll which was marred with incitement and violence leading to the killing of 1,300 people and displacement of 300,000 others.

Waititu has since apologised adding that his comments were directed at Maasai's from Tanzania and not the Kenyan Maasai community.

“I am fully responsible for what I said. There was nobody who was hurt after my utterances. You can interpret my statements as incitement, but that’s your view. But they were already incited. When I arrived, they had already blocked the roads,” Waititu said at a news conference in Parliament buildings.

The assistant minister yesterday evening managed to escape from parliament buildings in unclear circumstances and evaded arrest despite police checking all vehicles leaving the buildings.

Social media users now want the people who helped him escape arrested.

“Parliament has CCTV, the police can easily get who helped Waititu sneak from the law. Or that's also privileged? #Accomplice #arrestWaititu ,” Mac Otani wrote on Twitter.

Another assistant minister and member of parliament was this month fired from cabinet and charged in court for allegedly inciting violence that claimed more than 100 lives in the south-eastern Tana River area at the Kenyan coast.