CORD STATEMENT: EMERGING CLIMATE OF FEAR AND CRACKDOWN ON FREE SPEECH:
We wish to draw the attention of Kenyans and the international community to the crisis of governance that is taking roots in our country.
This crisis is taking the form of a slow but steady slide to dictatorship through a crackdown on free speech in the name of national security and public order.
The move has taken a more ominous turn as the government has struggled to prevent the release and dissemination of incriminating evidence concerning corruption involving top government officials.
The efforts have included the push to undermine the independence of the judiciary, to stifle freedom of the media, and the peddling of various conspiracy theories to blackmail and silence critical voices.
One such conspiracy theory came from the Ministry of Interior a few weeks ago that CORD is working with regional states to destabilize the country, a claim that has never been substantiated and for which no one has been arrested and charged. We have seen new, restrictive moves against social media activists in ways that are undoubtedly authoritarian and repressive.
This pattern is definitely a hint of desperation. But it poses grave danger to our stability and basic and fundamental freedoms as we race towards election in a year’s time and well into the future. Some of what we are witnessing amount to the suspension of the constitution, illegal declaration of state of emergency and emergence of rule by decree.
Kenya is sliding into a society in which the government is directly threatening opposition politicians, depriving them of freedom of speech and assembly in public and other places, as well as fabricating trumped up charges against opposition leaders. Persistent threats have become everyday things in the life of the opposition. Everybody who calls for accountability, equity, fairness in government immediately becomes an enemy of the regime.
A few days ago a Member of Parliament called for Rt. Hon Raila Odinga’s assassination. In Nakuru, a Member of Parliament called for the forceful eviction and relocation of members of other communities from the town and its environs. In both cases, the Jubilee regime saw no need to act, until our members protested.
Then the Members of Parliament who called on the State to guarantee the security of all Kenyans and challenged the President to play his rightful role as everyone’s president became accused of hate speech. Together with their colleagues whom they had complained against, they have been held incommunicado, essentially unofficially detained without trial.
We are not going to waste time blaming individual leaders and institutions of government. The current state of the arbitrary exercise of power and disregard of democratic principles falls on the feet of the President.
The author of the political repression and reckless violation of the Rule of Law and the Bill of Rights is the tenant at State House. He has transformed the police force into a personal militia ever on the ready to interfere with legitimate political activity and encouraged the subversion of constitutional organs ranging from the Judiciary, Parliament and independent office and commissions.
Under the circumstances, CORD demands the immediate release of all its members of Parliament without charge or any other conditions failure of which we shall undertake the following:
1. We will resume our national demonstrations and protests on Monday, 20th June, 2016.
2. We will cease all engagements in dialogue in respect of IEBC and instead intensify the demonstrations and protests.
3. We will declare the CORD legislators to be political prisoners and hold a public meeting and a vigil at the Freedom Corner on Saturday, 18th June, 2016.
4. We shall hold a prayer service for our political prisoners in Machakos town on Sunday 19th June, 2016.