A Kenyan court has detained eight Members of Parliament for four days over charges of hate speech and incitement.
The court decision will allow further investigations into allegations of “hate speech” involving the eight MPs.
The development comes on the back of growing tensions in the country and weeks of violent protests with over a year to national elections in the east African country.
The Prosecution had pushed for a four-day detention, arguing that the period was sufficient for a forensic analysis of the statements by the MPs which were captured on video, in order to come up with foolproof charges to guarantee a conviction.
The eight MPs including four pro-government and four opposition members were picked up by police after they were alerted to remarks by the politicians said to be “laced with ethnic hatred, vilification and bordering on incitement”.
Kenya: The 8 MPs that appeared in court today re:hate speech will be held in custody till 17th June as investigations continue.— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) June 14, 2016
They include Moses Kuria, Ferdinand Waititu, Kimani Ngunjiri, Timothy Bosire and Junet Mohamed.
The rest are Womens’ representatives Florence Mutua, Aisha Jumwa and senator Johnson Muthama.
They will be held at various police stations until Friday.
The 2010 Constitution of Kenya that sought to reshape institutions and national politics guarantees free expression but expressly outlaws ethnic incitement or “hate speech”.
The politicians now face a Sh1 million fine or a jail-term of up to three years if convicted.
The 2017 presidential election is expected to pit incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kikuyu – the biggest of Kenya’s more than 40 ethnic groups – against Raila Odinga, a Luo, from another major ethnic group.
Kenya will also hold elections for parliament, governors and county assemblies next year