Advisory on actions to reinforce peaceful co-existence during the 2013 general elections
NATIONAL COHESION AND INTEGRATION COMMISSION
ADVISORY ON ACTIONS TO REINFORCE PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE DURING THE 2013 GENERAL ELECTIONS
Since the return to multi-party democracy, Kenya’s General Elections have been marred by violence in largely multi-ethnic regions of the country. The most extensive violence of this nature was witnessed in the aftermath of the pronouncement of the presidential elections results following the 2007 General Elections. The country is now facing the first General Election after the threat to sustained unity witnessed in 2008 and under a new governance structure instituted under the 2010 Constitution.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission established under the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008 is under Section 25 (j) of the Act mandated to; ‘identify and analyze factors inhibiting the attainment of harmonious relations between ethnic communities, particularly barriers to their participation in social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political endeavours. The Commission is required to recommend to the Government and any other relevant public or private body how to overcome these factors’.
NCIC was recently engaged in monitoring of the political party nominations process that was conducted nationwide with a view to identifying potential triggers to violence in the coming General Elections.
The violence that was recently experienced in some parts of the country including the discontent expressed by Kenyans in addition to our findings have highlighted the need for concerted efforts to sustain the relative peace we have enjoyed in the last five years as we approach the General Elections.
NCIC thus makes the following recommendations:
a)The late delivery of ballot material in areas where there exists stiff competition between aspirants and/or parties poses a trigger to violence and should be mitigated
The outcome of our monitoring shows that areas where a number of parties are deemed stronger and/or where equally strong candidates are present, undoubtedly remain vulnerable to rumor mongering and political manipulation. It is also noted that the fact that aspirants were still able to ‘party-hop’ means that in many areas the contest that could have been concluded with party nominations have been postponed.
b)Conduct of Campaign Supporters
It was apparent (from the monitoring exercise) that the aspirants were more responsive to discussions to keep peace during campaigns but remained susceptible to manipulation from radical supporters. The need to ensure that supporters are not allowed to easily congregate around the tallying areas must be emphasized to control mob tendencies.
We appeal to all Kenyans to maintain peace at all times as they practice their Constitutional right to support candidates of their choice. They should not trample on other citizens’ rights as they continue to enjoy theirs.
c)Complete Impartiality of the Police and Administration
The police have a specific enforcement role that must not be diluted by threats to peace. There is need to ensure that all officers working with the National Police Service, including special police officers appointed under the powers conferred to the Inspector General of Police, sustain law and order around the polling and tallying areas and have adequate knowledge of their roles and mandate. Kenya is raw from the 2007/8 violence and police impartiality will be paramount in ensuring peaceful General Elections.
d)All candidates need to be conversant with the current provisions of relevant laws that relate to keeping peace and order.
Reports of some aspirants marshaling wananchi to violence despite the existence of laws that criminalize such activities should not be tolerated. The existing dispute resolution mechanisms must be used exhaustively.
e)Sobriety and responsibility in communicating polling results
The fast pace and ease of access to communication channels such as social media and cell phones must not be abused or corrupted to relay unconfirmed information.
Only confirmed results should be relayed to avoid miscommunication. Those who engage in such shortcuts should face the law.
(i) Whereas prompt delivery of materials is essential for all polling stations, IEBC should put extra effort in potential hot spots where delivery of polling material need to be prioritized.
(ii)The suspicion Kenyans exhibited against the police force following the 2008 violence still exists. The need to act firmly and uphold the law is key if wananchi are to work with the National Police Service. The National Police Service need to ensure that all persons recruited and deployed at polling and tallying centers are conversant with the law.
(iii)Political parties need to ensure that all persons to whom they issue Party Certificates are sensitized on relevant laws especially sections of the NCI Act 2008 regarding hate speech and other laws relating to keeping peace and non-incitement to violence.
(v)Elections are important in any democratic society but the continuity of the nation is bigger than each and all. Thus the general populace needs to respect the law and remember at all times to put KENYA KWANZA!
Mzalendo N. Kibunjia, PhD., EBS