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Kenya's First Lady Stirs Up Political Storm


Kenya's first lady, Lucy Kibaki hold the Standard newspaper with her in the lead story
A recent incident in which a journalist was slapped by Kenya's first lady has taken on a political dimension when members of parliament called on the office of the president to justify the conduct of the first lady. The journalist himself has filed a complaint with the police.

Clifford Derrick, a cameraman for Kenya Television Network and last year's winner of the CNN African Journalist of the Year Award, tells VOA he will not allow himself or any other journalist to be intimidated on the job.

"I decided, therefore, to go and file a report, so that it can become a precedent that no journalist should be assaulted in the process of his duty," said Clifford Derrick.

Mr. Derrick says he gave first lady Lucy Kibaki one week to apologize for slapping him in the face, as he recorded a protest she made last week at the offices of The Daily Nation.

He says Mrs. Kibaki did not apologize, and, therefore, he and his lawyer filed a complaint with the police.

Mrs. Kibaki and her security detail stormed the offices of The Daily Nation just before midnight on May 2. For five hours, she berated journalists, accusing them of publishing lies, abusing her and her husband, President Mwai Kibaki, and misleading Kenyans.

The first lady was protesting coverage of how she interrupted the weekend farewell party of the outgoing World Bank country director, who was her neighbor, because the music was too loud.

The story made international headlines in part because most of her protest occurred on World Press Freedom Day.

Mrs. Kibaki's late-night protest has raised the issue of the role of the first lady in Kenya's politics.

Parliamentarians have been demanding an explanation of her conduct and a clarification of her role in Kenya's public life. The office of the president has promised to present its side to the parliament soon.

The first lady herself says, "there is clearly nothing wrong with the first lady making a physical appearance at the newsroom to demand accurate coverage."

Mrs. Kibaki also blasted The Sunday Nation for not getting her side of the issue before running the loud music story, and accused some journalists of allowing their dislike of the first family to bias their reporting and writing.

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