The election campaign period officially starts today. It is a vital stage in the run-up to the August 9 polling day gazetted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Though there are scores of presidential candidates, the battle is shaping up as a two-horse race. It pits the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, which is fronting Deputy President William Ruto as its flag bearer, against the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance, whose flag bearer is ODM party leader Raila Odinga.
So far, the unofficial campaigns have been largely peaceful, with the aspirants crisscrossing the country to sell their manifestoes. There have been a few ugly incidents, pointing to grave danger in case the authorities do not act firmly.
The voter registers have been ready for verification from May 4 to June 2, with the IEBC providing an online code to which voters can send their details for confirmation. Though some have grumbled about the cost of the text message, many have been happy to confirm the polling stations where they will cast their ballots.
Elections enable the people to freely choose their leaders every five years. They need not be a matter of life and death, as those who lose can still go back to the drawing board and restrategise for the next round. Those who feel aggrieved about results can file petitions, and if they manage to convince the courts about any malpractices, the results will be nullified, giving them another chance.
The country has nurtured a culture of competitive elections since independence; nearly 60 years ago. They have generally been free and fair. It is, therefore, important that the candidates shun insults and violence and dwell on issue-based campaigns.
As happens during every election season, the candidates sign up to a code of conduct to adhere to peaceful campaigns.
Elections should never be the source of animosity. They should be a fair competition to enable Kenyans to elect the best leaders.