How peace forums kept war at bay during 2022 polls

IEBC voter educator

An IEBC voter educator sensitises members of the public in Elburgon town in Nakuru County in this photo taken on July 16, 2022.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Grroup

A new report has revealed how Nakuru and Baringo counties, which have a history of political violence, turned into peaceful havens in the last General Election.

The findings are contained in a 45-page report titled: “Creating Peaceful, Fair and Non-violent Elections.”

According to the joint report authored by Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies Director Mutuma Ruteere and Dr Patrick Mutahi, an expert on conflict, elections, political violence, security and human rights, the lessons from the two counties should be replicated to the rest of the 45 counties as case studies ahead of the 2027 elections.

Dr Mutuma attributed the peace to coordination forums spearheaded by Nakuru and Baringo counties and which brought on board the county security teams, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and political parties.

Other forum members included peace committees, community policing members, the business community, civil society organisations, Faith-based organisations, and Youth and women leaders.

“These groups forged a common front, unpacked security threats and affirmed their commitment to peace and cohesion before, during, and after 2022 elections,” the report reads in part.

The forums coordinated information sharing to respond to identified threats.

The multi-sectoral forums were cascaded to all 16 sub-counties in Nakuru and Baringo counties.

An IEBC official observed that the forums helped the electoral body better and closely coordinate with others making the work easier.

The report was presented to key stakeholders from the two counties, national and county governments in Nairobi.

“The Inter-sectoral Urban Violence Prevention programme in Nakuru and Baringo counties played a key role in strengthening partnerships at the grassroots level that led to violence prevention,” said Dr Mutuma.

He revealed that the programme enhanced the capabilities of individuals and institutions to work collectively towards common goals on violence prevention.

A recent review by the Midrift Hurinet on the 2022 elections in the two counties showed that people from across all sectors took more responsibility for action and reporting.

“Our post-election report found that the coordination forums started by Midrift Hurinet addressed election tensions and violence ahead of the 2022 elections,” said Midrift Executive Director Joseph Omondi

The forums strengthened the early warning systems and coordination of information sharing to respond to identified peace and security threats.

Mr John Kihara, a resident of Naivasha which in the past has been an epicentre of post-election violence said: “The multi-sectoral forums provided stakeholders with an opportunity to assess the security situation and the threats to peace and security from where they sit.”

“The multi-sectoral forum was a game changer because, for the first time, I was able to share in confidence ideas with security agencies on what needs to be done to address the threats to peace and security in Baringo County,” said Mr Francis Kiptalam, a resident of Marigat sub-county.

Former Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui who has since been transferred to Kitui County said the formation of the multi-agency teams scored many wins by wooing the evildoers in the peace teams.

“The commitment of all stakeholders walking the journey together as a team is something that made things different in Nakuru County in an election year,” said Mr Mbui.

A county administrator from Baringo narrated how they planned to conduct a peace caravan but they did not have adequate funds to cover the major towns as planned.

However, the Boda Boda Association volunteered to lead the road shows in Kabaranet Town.

“Such collaboration could not have happened if the forum was not active and bringing together most stakeholders,” said a senior Baringo County Administrator who declined to be quoted as he is not authorised to speak to the press.