Nairobi: Kenyans have intensified efforts to promote peace and institute measures to avert conflict before, during, and after the general elections slated for August 9.
At the grassroots level, peace crusaders and community leaders are spreading messages of harmony and togetherness.
“Communities such as ours living in the slums are prone to violence arising from elections. It is for this reason that we have been engaging the community and making a clarion call to abide by peace. We are also using the youth to preach peace,” Peter Kano Muasya, a local community leader told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday.
Muasya hails from the expansive Kiambiu slum, east of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where the quality of life is low and poverty is rife. “Here the message of peace carries more urgency than anything else hence their efforts in recent days.”
Past election cycle’s have been fraught with conflict. To forestall this occurrence during the electoral period, the government, election stakeholders, and the community have embarked on disseminating peace messages and breaking stereotypes, Xinhua news agency reported.
“It’s important as leaders that we preach messages of peace right now, because we understand our election history where after every five years ethnical tensions are fanned unfortunately by politicians,” Ruth Mucheru, aspiring deputy presidential candidate of Agano Party, told Xinhua on phone, urging Kenyans to turn out and vote and remain united after the polls.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the state organ that fosters peaceful coexistence, has been implementing a guideline it drew up in 2020 dubbed Elections Bila Noma (violence-free elections) to guide the realization of peaceful elections.
The initiative has been able to identify areas highly prone to violence and effect mitigation measures as well as facilitate dialogue between sparring communities among other activities to quell clashes.
“We call on the nation and all its citizens to join us in urging social media users to desist from using old videos that portend the risk of reigniting negative emotions, thus inciting communities against each other,” NCIC chairman Samuel Kobia told journalists on Tuesday.
The judiciary, on its part, is in the process of operationalizing special offenses courts that will address cases of hate speech and election-related offenses in areas identified by the NCIC as volatile in hate speech