The Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Kenya has reiterated the need for Kenyans to uphold peace as the country gears towards the August 2022 polls.
Through peace building initiatives, the council wants stakeholders including Community Based Organizations, religious institutions, and government agencies to promote peace and unity among the residents to ensure that the transition phase was smooth.
Speaking during a press conference in Nairobi, the Council Chairman Stephen Cheboi asked politicians to desist from inciting or wedging divisions among residents along ethnic, class, or religious line to foster harmony.
“Our Mwananchi Peace Initiative at the grassroots level is designed to allow the public to sign peace into their hearts,” he said, adding that the Council was not leaving anything to chance when it comes to peace in the country.
While condemning the insecurity witnessed recently in Lamu, Kerio Valley, and the Isiolo-Meru border, Cheboi urged the government to move with decisive speed to proactively stem negative narratives, rectify the situation, and bring the culprits to book.
“We appreciate nonetheless, the joint efforts by government agencies including the National Commission and Integration Commission (NCIC), the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and the Kenya Police Service for illuminating, spotting, arresting, and prosecuting culprits spreading hate speech and dividing the country,” he added.
Echoing his sentiments, Bishop Henry Munyori, a Council member and the National Coordinator of the Mwananchi Peace Initiative, stated that promoting peace is a long journey particularly in Kenya which has been bedeviled by the unique case of perennial violence during the electioneering period.
He urged the public to take up the responsibility to promote peace among themselves while reminding politicians of their big role to play in creating unity and preaching harmony across the country.
“Enough is enough!! Kenyans are tired of bloodshed, destruction, and displacement,” Munyori declared as he asked for decorum and sobriety by everyone during campaigns.
He further urged the media to promote good news by avoiding negative and biased reporting that can quickly generate prejudices among the electorate.
At the same time, another Council member Justus Gichuhi emphasized on everyone becoming an ambassador to the peace initiative in addition to being the watchdogs for the NCIC to tame rogue politicians spitting venom to the citizens.
“We want the people to acquire dignity and pride in their nation by singing and expressing the national anthem and preamble of the constitution frequently so as to encourage national values of patriotism, unity, democracy, love, and the nation’s aspirations in the citizens,” he said.
The Council swore never to renege on its promise to actively participate in the peace process to avoid situations that can trigger any form of violence.
By Michael Omondi and Catherine Mumbi