The Star: President Kibaki Echoed Ken Wafula

A human rights activist has been arrested in Eldoret for warning that communities in Rift Valley were arming themselves with guns in preparation for 2012.

Ken Wafula, the director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, was charged with two counts of incitement to violence.

His arrest appears to have been prompted by a BBC investigation that reported that the Rift Valley was rearming.

Wafula has been released on bond and the case will resume on December 10.

But is his arrest an infringement of his right to free speech?

Wafula was not inciting anyone to commit violence, if he spoke those words. He was warning that there is a risk of the violence of 1992, 1997 and 2007 recurring. He wanted the state to intervene to stop the alleged rearmament.

Government may have been embarrassed by the BBC story but Wafula should not be punished for that.

There is definitely a problem with small arms proliferation in Kenya. Indeed President Kibaki declared on Kenyatta Day this week, "Let us all discourage arms buying in families and our villages".

Wafula was just doing what Kibaki wants all patriotic Kenyans to do.

The state should reconsider its charges against Wafula.

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