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NCIC embarks on peace advocacy ahead of Polls

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has completed mapping out political violence hotspots in the country ahead of next year’s August 9 polls.

At the same time, the Commission has embarked on a countrywide civic education and advocacy for peace and unity prior to the General Election.

According to the NCIC Deputy Director in charge of Civic Education and Advocacy Mr Killian Nyambu, the commission had relied on past records to pick out Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi and Eldoret as areas that were most prone to political violence.

While noting that all the identified hotspots were cosmopolitan in nature, Nyambu said the commission had embarked on sensitisation programmes for residents in the regions on the need for peaceful coexistence before, during and after elections.

The Deputy Director was speaking in Nakuru during a consultative meeting organised by NCIC for chiefs, Assistant Chiefs and Nyumba Kumi Committees from the eleven sub-counties. Also present was Nakuru-West Deputy County Commissioner Michael Lesimam.

Nyambu affirmed that the commission was keen on averting chaos before, during and after the elections.

“We have also started to engage the youths so that they are not misused by the politicians to cause violence during political campaigns. The commission is probing issues that may interfere with peaceful elections,” he said.

The Deputy Director revealed that NCIC was also actively engaging political parties and aspirants in the civic education programme, while concurrently identifying risk factors that may impede peaceful and democratic political campaigns.

Nyambu refuted allegations that the commission was a toothless bulldog adding that he was satisfied that the amount of sensitization and awareness NCIC had done was enough to deter any form of skirmishes over the election period.

“Our mandate is to investigate individuals, politicians and musicians spewing messages of incitement and hate speech before handing over the evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions,” added the Deputy Director.

He said that the commission will deal decisively with warmongers and those bankrolling criminal gangs for political reasons in the country irrespective of the position one holds.

“We have enough monitors who record and report all hate speech violations to law enforcement agencies. As we speak, we have several cases going on throughout the country,” he assured.

Nyambu noted that hate speech on social media was their biggest challenge. “Hate speech has now been directed to social media platforms. We shall be working with other government agencies to stem this,” he pointed out.

Mr Lesimam warned politicians against using young people and financing outlawed gangs during the election period.

“Let us be aware that any individual who incites or threatens violence on people based on ethnic, political or religious affiliations on social media, print media and in public gatherings commits a serious offence and should face drastic measures. We are determined not to have a repeat of the 2007 violence,” he said.

The Deputy County Commissioner urged political parties and candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns and peacefully share their political agenda that will allow Kenyans to make a free choice.

“Issue based politics will deepen democratisation and enhance long term stability, peace and development for Kenya. Citizens must desist from ethnic hate and profiling, tone down on political intolerance and embrace diverse political views,” Lesimam said.

In 2007 more than 1,000 people lost their lives while 500,000 were displaced following the disputed presidential election.

By Anne Mwale and Sandra Tenai

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