A Kenyan member of parliament(MP) is in police grips after saying that he would beat up foreign traders if they refused to leave the country.Charles Njagua Kanyi was arrested outside Kenya’s parliament on Wednesday over his comments which authorities say amount to incitement.
In a video that has gone viral on social media, the lawmaker is seen telling foreigners engaged in business in his constituency to shut down and leave the country or be forcefully removed.
“When you look at our market, Tanzanians and Ugandans have taken our business, enough is enough, if we will give them 24 hours and they will not leave, we will beat them and we are not scared of anyone,” he said while people applauded in agreement.
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The MP from the governing Jubilee Party, who is also a singer by the stage name Jaguar, has since said that his comments had been misinterpreted, adding that “all foreigners are welcome to our country.”
But even before he could hold a press conference to give further explanations, he was whisked away by the police on Wednesday to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters for questioning.
The Kenyan government has since condemned the MP’s comment, saying that it was not the government’s official position.
“We wish to state that this is not the position of the government and we denounce the comments carried in the video in the strongest terms possible. Such comments are unfortunate and have no place in today’s ‘global environment,” government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said while reassuring foreign investors in the country of their security.
Kenya is East Africa’s economic powerhouse, and with its improved infrastructure, the country continues to attract investors and people across the region to conduct business.
Thus, the comments by the lawmaker sparked a diplomatic row and Tanzania’s prime minister summoned the Kenyan high commissioner for an explanation, reports the BBC.
Other reports said the politician’s remarks caused an uproar in Tanzania where the Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai ordered the government to issue a statement on the safety of Tanzanians in Kenya.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan MP had, on Tuesday, issued an ultimatum to government officials to deport Chinese trading in city markets, reports Vanguard News.
In recent years, China has made huge investments in Kenya, such as the new railway linking Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to the coast. At a recent China-Africa summit, Kenyan President Kenyatta expressed his appreciation to China for its “commitment in supporting Kenya’s development goals.”
Kenyans have, however, often raised concerns about China’s footprint across the country. Many have blamed China for stealing local jobs, adding that Chinese investment brings racism and racial discrimination, and could saddle the country with uncontrollable debt.
The singer turned lawmaker’s arrest comes on the back of the arrest of another Kenyan MP early this month. Rashid Kassim, MP for Wajir East in north-eastern Kenya, reportedly slapped Fatuma Gedi, who sits on the budget committee, for not giving money to his constituency.