National Cohesion and Integration Commission has told politicians campaigning for the March 7 Malindi by-election to watch their tongues.
The seat, which fell vacant after its holder Dan Kazungu was appointed Mining Cabinet Secretary, has so far attracted eight hopefuls.
They are Philip Charo (Jubilee Party), Mr Willy Mtengo (Orange Democratic Movement), Mr Reuben Mwamure (Kadu-Asili), Mr David Mangi (Shirikisho), Mr Yusuf Abubakar (Federal Party), Mr Fuad Kombe (Kanu), Mr Peter Ponda (Chama cha Uzalendo) and Mr Ahmed Mohamed (Agenda Party).
Although the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is yet to announce the official start of campaigns, the leaders have been criss-crossing the constituency to sell their policies.
Speaking at Pwani University after addressing an inter-county youth forum organised by Brand Kenya, NCIC secretary Hassan Mohamed said the commission had sent officers to Malindi to monitor leaders’ utterances.
“We don’t have any information yet that can be classified as hate speech but that does not mean we will not get them,” he said.
Mr Mohamed added that since the seat was declared vacant, the commission had received numerous audio recordings from Kenyans who attend leaders’ rallies.
“At the moment, we have not received any tangible recording of hate speech or incitement. But they must know that we are closely monitoring the Malindi and Kericho by-elections,” Mr Mohamed said.
He added that the commission had started preparations to monitor rallies for next year’s general elections “though with limited resources”.
“What we have at the moment compared to what we had when we prepared for the 2013 elections is little,” he said.
“In 2012, we received support from various donors and the government. This enabled us facilitate many programmes.”
He said the commission has been training police officers on how to handle the 2017 general elections.
“Even with limited resources, we have trained police officers in the Rift valley,” Mr Mohamed said.
“Our effort is now redirected to Tana River and Garissa counties and we hope we will have completed the training by mid this year.”
He said the commission had asked for funding from the government.
“Next week, we are meeting donors and other stakeholders to ask for assistance,” he said.
“Hopefully, we expect to get the needed aid and implement our services without any hitches.”