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Kenyan minister sparks controversy, says ‘Rwanda is autocracy’

Kenya’s Transport Minister, Kipchumba Murkomen, has caused a stir by labelling Rwanda an ‘autocracy’.

 

Murkomen made the comments during a live TV interview while defending Kenya’s public transport system against comparisons with its neighbour.

 

On Monday night, Murkomen told Citizen TV that Kenya was a democracy with legal processes, while Rwanda was an autocracy where “whatever the president says is the law.” He also said that every decision in Kenya involved a proposal, parliament, and public participation.

 

The minister’s remarks raised fears of diplomatic friction between the two East African countries. Kenyans on social media slammed Murkomen’s comments as “bar talk” and cautioned against antagonising Rwanda.

 

To ease the tension, Murkomen later posted on social media that “autocracy is not a bad thing,” praising Rwanda’s system of leadership as enabling the president to achieve positive results.

 

Rwanda, under President Paul Kagame since 1994, has been accused by rights groups of silencing dissent. Despite criticism, Kagame secured the last presidential election with nearly 99% of the vote and could stay in power until 2034.

 

The Kenyan minister’s comments come amid recent diplomatic talks, as President William Ruto stated that Kenya’s relations with neighbouring countries were “perfect.” The row follows Murkomen’s recent role in resolving a power outage at Nairobi’s main airport.

 

Kenyan lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi expressed concern on social media, stating that “Minister Murkomen can’t attack a sovereign friendly state without provocation and disparage President Paul Kagame just like that.” Korir Sing’oei, a senior official in Kenya’s foreign ministry, acknowledged the diversity of expressions within East African countries, but stressed that Rwanda is a “key brotherly nation,” and President Kagame’s “bold leadership is admired at home and abroad.”

 

The incident highlights the need for careful diplomacy among East African nations.

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