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Kenya MP faces contempt charge for ethnic comments

Odinga greets Uhuru Kenyatta at a recent event. The two giants are set to battle again in the presidential election

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |  Kenyan police said on Friday they had arrested an opposition parliamentarian on suspicion of “ethnic contempt” over a public address he made ahead of next month’s tight presidential election.

Junet Mohammed, a high-ranking member of leading opposition candidate Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, was taken into custody in the western town of Homa Bay because of comments he made in early July to a gathering of party youth.

Police allege Mohammed incited “contempt, hatred and discrimination” when he said that if Odinga won the vote, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Kikuyu ethnic group “will remain in their place in Nyeri,” a stronghold for the president that is also dominated by Kikuyus.

Mohammed denied the charges and was released on bail after appearing in court.

Last year, he was among six MPs from both the opposition and the ruling party arrested on allegations of hate speech and inciting violence. That case is still in court in the capital Nairobi.

The contest between Kenyatta and Odinga is expected to be among Kenya’s closest in years, raising fears that post-election violence could break out, as it did after the disputed 2007 vote between Odinga and former president Mwai Kibaki that left more than 1,000 people dead.

 

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