The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has Thursday launched a roadmap towards violence-free polls in 2022.
The roadmap outlines practical strategies, actions and time-bound targets that will be pursued in collaboration with other peace actors through reciprocal steps to ensure a peaceful environment during the electioneering period.
Speaking during the launch at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete, Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr Fred Matiang’i, highlighted some of the roadblocks to peaceful coexistence in the country and emphasized the need for genuine trust among all communities ahead of the elections.
“Surely, Kenya has come a long way. We cannot have made all of these investments we are making only to begin ruining our own country just because of our unbridled ambitions and just because some of us believe that they must be the ones to lead. It is the people of Kenya who will decide who will be their leaders, and all of us must be humble enough to live with that particular reality and move forward. We must have peaceful elections come 2022,” he said.
The Cabinet Secretary described the roadmap as timely and pledged full support in its popularization.
He further directed the Secretary for National Administration and the Secretary for Internal Security to jointly mobilize government administrators across the country to facilitate the Commission crisscross the country with a view to delivering on its mandate of ensuring cohesion and integration.
Referencing the subculture of violence, divisive politics, and ethnic polarization, Dr Matiang’i noted the deleterious impact of inflammatory rhetoric, hate speech, and negative class-based mobilization on the fabric of the Kenyan society.
He challenged NCIC and other constitutional commissions and independent offices to strictly advance the implementation of Chapter Six of the Constitution.
“Walk the talk; do your job. I am waiting for a day when people will be disqualified from contesting public offices on account of their behaviour.”
The Cabinet Secretary also called out Kenyans to stand against the emerging “digital vigilante groups” that are now spewing hate and intolerance using social media.
“There are vigilante groups on social media worshipping and working for politicians who are known, paid for, and supported by groups of politicians whose responsibility is basically divisive politics, ethnic balkanization, constant insults and abuse. We must stand up against this.”
According to NCIC Chair, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, the roadmap was a culmination of one-on-one engagement with Kenyans across the country in the past one year and marks a new dawn for the Commission and the people of Kenya.
He said, “As a Commission, we will ensure that Kenya and Kenyans are peaceful and the old days where the Commission might have been silent when politics of hate, division, ‘us versus them’ was loud is over.”
He noted that conflict disruption, citizens’ empowerment, trust-building, servant leadership, hate speech management and long term transformation are the key strategies that will be employed to ensure violence-free 2022 General elections but called on Kenyans to make interculturalism and diversity a reality in the country.
In her speech, the Commission Secretary, Dr Skitter Mbugua also noted that Kenyans are tired of conflicts that escalate into violence.
She called on the political leaders to take responsibility when engaging the citizens and focus more on issue-based politic over ethnic politics.