The government through the Office of the Government Spokesperson Thursday held a joint media briefing on the management of peaceful elections in the country and other issues of national importance.
The briefing with various government agencies articulated issues of peace as a critical component in the conduct of citizens before, during and after the forthcoming general election.
Speaking during the event at the Teleposta Towers Media Centre in Nairobi, Government Spokesperson Col. (Rtd.) Cyrus Oguna, appreciated the media for their collaboration to work together with the government towards the same important objective of satisfying the needs of the target audience.
Oguna cautioned the public about the current interesting moments as the election fast approaches, where the country has been filled with enthusiasm, anxiety, panic, tension and even violence.
He stated that such outcomes are experienced during the electioneering period due to incitement by leaders and in some cases the media.
“Nevertheless, the government has set up a multi-agency team to synergise and ensure a stable situation for peace to prevail,” he remarked, adding that this was in preparation and response to issues that may arise.
The Government Spokesperson insisted that any Kenyan is free to vie for any seat within the republic as he called upon the citizens to shun hate speech and avoid being used by selfish politicians.
Further, while drawing attention of participants to the influence of the internet and the social media, Oguna urged the media and the citizens at large to exercise freedom of the press and expression responsibly, since they are both critical in any democratic process.
“As the government, we urge for calmness and sobriety as we campaign for civil and political rights. The youth in particular should shun hate speech and other forms of intolerance and avoid being used by politicians,” he reiterated, encouraging the electorate to call out on leaders who propagate hate speech.
Oguna added that to further amplify its resolve to hold peaceful elections, the government has engaged with the National Police Service (NPS), the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), political parties, observers, the media and the general public, which will ensure the country never again experience election violence witnessed in the past.
At the same time, the NPS Spokesperson Bruno Shioso, said the organisation is a key player in elections to provide a safe, secure and stable political environment.
Shioso stated that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has an enormous task that requires stakeholders like the NPS to make the forthcoming election a success.
He revealed that the police have made several preparations including training of officers across the country in such things as software management, improving logistics, reinforcement options from numerous ongoing recruitment exercises and embracing a multi-agency support system.
“We will continue collaborating with all the stakeholders in a harmonious and progressive manner to ensure a successful election devoid of hate speech, fake news, intimidation, and violence,” he emphasized, adding that the few noticeable cases touching on female candidates will not be tolerated.
While appealing to all the actors, candidates, and political parties to adhere to the law, Shioso said that the law will be applied impartially against any person who incites or threatens political violence.
He urged the public to report any suspicious activity to the police, through the Toll Free Numbers 999, 112, and 0800722203 for prompt response as he assured them that the few incidences of violence in the country should not be cause for alarm as the NPS remains committed to the safety of the citizens.
Meanwhile, Oguna commented on the government’s ongoing interventions to cushion the 23 Counties and other pockets such as Nyatike and Kieni in Migori and Nyeri respectively, impacted as a result of drought through physical food distribution and cash transfers.
According to the government spokesperson, this hybrid system developed will run side by side until things improve, which underscores the President’s promise that no Kenyan will die of hunger again.
“The government has so far spent Sh1.2 billion to cushion 2.8 million people facing food distress, where the cash transfers specifically target the most vulnerable from the grassroots level,” he maintained.
The government spokesperson also appealed to the press to educate the public on the importance of vaccination after the lifting of restrictions and containment measures that has seen vaccinated numbers drop considerably.
By Michael Omondi and Audrey Cherotich