The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) has underlined the need for a peaceful transition of power after the August 9 polls.
The council affirmed that Kenya should continue being competitive to attract local and foreign investors so as to create more jobs and produce for exports.
Speaking at Nyayo Gardens in Nakuru during a launch of a walk to spearhead peace campaigns across the County to ensure harmony before, during, and after the General Elections, IRCK branch Chairman Mr Ronald Sunguti, said the initiative will encourage leaders and aspirants to drive issue-based engagements, promote content that enhances peace.
“After the elections, Kenyans will still need access to healthcare, education and decent income-generating activities. This can only be achieved if they conduct peaceful campaigns now, and elect visionary leaders. Post-election upheavals have previously dented the country’s economy, displaced hundreds of Kenyans and sowed seeds of discord among different communities. This time around, Kenyans must conduct this election differently. It can be done,” noted Mr Sunguti.
During the event that was presided over by Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the chairman said that the youth and women have a huge responsibility in deciding how Kenya will emerge from the elections. Mr Sunguti asked youths not to be used by politicians to cause chaos.
Mr Sunguti reminded aspirants and officials of political parties that citizens had the freedom to support and campaign for their preferred political parties and candidates. However, he added that parties and individuals should not disrupt campaigns and other political activities of rivals as has been witnessed in some parts of the country.
His sentiments were echoed by Bashir Adulrahaman from the Nakuru Jamia Mosque, who revealed that the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya had prepared a peace charter to be signed by all political aspirants countrywide seeking to commit them to uphold peace during and after the electioneering period.
Mr Adulrahaman urged Kenyans to shun leaders who propagate tribalism. “This is a time of reflection. We should reflect deeply about the direction our country is taking. It should be that of peace and not chaos,” he said.
He cautioned Kenyans to be wary of political leaders who were out to divide the country and advised them to vote for leaders who were committed to serving the nation, adding that their choices should not be based on tribe.
“Let us listen to all those who have offered themselves to be elected. They should not be examined based on where they come from and what languages they speak.”
Governor Kinyanjui said Kenya should demonstrate to the world during the forthcoming elections that it is a nation that can manage its own destiny through democracy.
According to the Governor, leaders’ actions in public forums would have a great impact on public reaction hence they must exercise restraint.
He posed ,“In between elections, Kenyans from all walks of life, region or communities, interact and do business with each other without thinking twice. Why should elections form a basis of discrimination and intense competition? The answer lies in Kenyan voters understanding that they are the politicians’ bosses, and that they should show the door any leader sowing hatred,”
Mr Kinyanjui said politicians should uphold dignity and respect each other’s right of choice and association.
He added, “We should live in an environment full of peace, stability and one that is predictable. Integrity is practicing what we preach. I believe we are the generation that has the capacity to conduct peaceful polls each election year.”
The governor stated that security agencies must step up vigilance, secure all presidential hopefuls and assure them of their safety at all times. Enough police officers, he suggested, should be allocated to the main contenders at their homes and campaign rallies.
Bishop Paul Taita Molel of Evangelical churches of Kenya petitioned the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), to ensure it delivered a transparent, credible and fair process.
“My humble appeal to our politicians is that kindly use your powers to be the ambassadors of peace,” he said.
Bishop Molel affirmed that individuals convicted in a court of law should not be allowed to vie in the first place and said the IEBC should also conduct civic education and convince Kenyans on the importance of this critical exercise.
By Hellen Kivaya and Charloth Chepkemoi