- Concerns over the likelihood of violence have heightened in the past week following disruptions of campaigns by the two in each other’s strongholds.
- Free, fair and credible elections in a peaceful environment fall under the ambit of issues related to peace, reconciliation and national unity.
The issue of peaceful elections has been much in the news lately, and concerns over the likelihood of violence have heightened in the past week following disruptions of campaigns by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger Raila Odinga in each other’s strongholds.
Free, fair and credible elections in a peaceful environment fall under the ambit of issues related to peace, reconciliation and national unity.
These are issues captured in the Nation Media Group’s 10-point national agenda, informed by realisation that the wounds are yet to heal from Kenya’s descent into bloodshed following the disputed 2007 elections.
Mr Odinga has in the past few days been forced to cut short National Super Alliance campaign rallies in Kericho and Baringo after being heckled by hostile pro-Jubilee crowds.
President Kenyatta’s campaign rally in Kisumu was also disrupted by supporters of the National Super Alliance, who heckled Deputy President William Ruto and forced him to abandon his address.
More serious incidents were witnessed in Thika and at stops along Thika Road when Mr Odinga’s campaign caravan was stoned by pro-Jubilee mobs. Security personnel had to fire gunshots in the air and lob teargas to disperse violent mobs.
Heading to the weekend, both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, speaking separately, condemned violence and intolerance, and pledged themselves to pursue peaceful campaigns.
But their messages might have been diluted by each seeming keen blame the other rather than take responsibility for the actions of their respective supporters.
Mr Kenyatta, speaking on Friday in Laikipia at the funeral of once powerful Security Minister G.G. Kariuki, condemned electoral violence and hooliganism, warning that leaders inciting violence would face the full force of the law. “Those thinking that they will incite violence, community against community, that they will cause trouble, let me tell them, they are dreaming…”
Rather than a general warning against all, irrespective of party affiliation, who may engage in or incite political violence , President Kenyatta seemed to be mouthing the typical Jubilee refrain common in political rallies, social media offensives and vernacular radio stations that accuse the Odinga campaign of setting the stage for election violence.
In an NTV interview, Mr Odinga also condemned political violence and intolerance, but he too seemed to take a partisan approach. He was more concerned with the disruptions that marred his campaign rallies rather than with similar treatment meted out to Mr Kenyatta.