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Kenyan minister suspended for hate speech

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Ferdinand Waititu, a Kenyan junior minister was suspended from his government post after being charged with incitement and hate speech for allegedly giving an address that led to the killing of at least two people.

A Kenyan court had earlier charged Waititu, an assistant minister in the water ministry, with the two offences.

He has denied the charges but was remanded in police custody until Friday, when a hearing on his bail application will be held.

"Following the charges in court against Ferdinand Waititu, President Mwai Kibaki after consultations with Prime Minister Raila Odinga has asked Waititu to step aside as an assistant minister pending the outcome of the case," said a statement from the presidential press service.

Waititu is accused of urging residents of Kayole, a lower-class residential area in Nairobi, to evict members of the Maasai tribe by saying that "all Maasais must leave; they are from Tanzania and without identification cards .... We do not want Maasais in Kayole."

Prosecutors say he made the statement at a time when area residents were protesting the alleged killing of a man by security guards thought to be Maasai.

Inciting hatred

Two more people died in further unrest in Kayole on Monday.

"The utterances made by the accused person incited communities... and caused the crowd to hunt for the Maasai people," prosecutor Lilian Obuo said, adding that "the words were calculated to bring violence to the Maasai community working in Kayole."

Waititu, a MP for Embakasi, a cosmopolitan constituency in eastern Nairobi, was held by police Thursday after the prosecution objected to his release on the grounds that he posed a flight risk.

The prosecution said that Waititu had refused to honour previous police summonses and gone into hiding when he learnt he was being sought.

Waititu's is the latest in a number of hate speech cases before Kenyan courts.

Last week, a hate speech case on another lawmaker, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, was thrown out of court after he made a public apology.

In July three musicians were charged with inciting ethnic violence through their songs, under laws set up following deadly post-poll violence after the much disputed 2007 presidential polls.


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