Group cautions politicians on divisive politics

 Group of Concerned Kenya Initiative

From left: Group of Concerned Kenya Initiative (GCKI) members Florence Mpaayei, Lt Gen. (Rtd) Daniel Opande (chairman), Wilfred Kiboro and Maj-Gen (Rtd) Hezron Murunga address the media in Nairobi on January 25, 2022.


Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

A group of eminent Kenyans has called on the national government to act fast to ensure a secure and peaceful political environment ahead of the August 9, 2022 General Election.

The group also challenged political leaders to commit to decent campaigns by shunning violence and divisive politics and to work towards free, fair and credible elections.

The Group of Concerned Kenyans Initiative (GCKI) warned that rising tensions and intolerance could trigger animosity among Kenyans.

GCKI chairperson Lieutenant General (retired) Daniel Opande said they were alarmed over increased cases of political intolerance and use of hate messages and incitement.

They warned that if the trend is not reversed it could spiral into violence, leading to loss of lives and property  as well as displacement of people.

He said various parts of the country had already experienced violent conflicts months before the official campaigning period.

Gen Opande called on the government to put in place robust early-warning and early-response mechanisms to avert conflict.

“Like in previous election years, there is an increase in use of hate messages and political incitement. In the recent past, we have experienced violence and conflicts in various parts of our country,” said Mr Opande.

“We categorically condemn these acts of violence, destruction of property and incitement. These spates of violence should not be condoned,” he added.

He said elections should provide Kenyans with an opportunity to exercise their democratic rights and freedoms without intimidation, coercion or manipulation.

Free, fair, transparent and credible elections

However, he pointed out, there have been incidents of political intolerance manifested in attempts to zone off certain parts of the country, which has the potential of balkanising the country along ethnic lines.

“We should all say NO to this trend and allow all aspirants access to all parts of the country with no instances of stone-throwing, intimidation, name-calling and other negative innuendos,” said the chairperson.

For his part, GCKI Vice-Chairperson Wilfred Kiboro said “enough is enough” over the perennial cycles of electoral violence in the country.

Dr Kiboro added that leaders must stand up to be counted in promotion of peaceful, free, fair, transparent and credible elections.

“We are concerned about what is happening, with war drums having started being beaten. We owe it to ourselves as Kenyans to have a peaceful election. We should desist from name-calling and demonising people we differ with in opinion,” said Dr Kiboro.

The Nation Media Group Board chairperson urged political leaders to rise above partisan politics, embrace political decency and seek the support of their ‘constituents’ based on their political ideologies and not to divide people on grounds of religion, ethnicity or social status.

“For a progressive country like Kenya, the misfortune of previous electoral violence should not be repeated,” he said.

He also appealed to the media to disseminate factual information and news to foster peace and unity.

Ms Florence Mpaayei added that they would engage various stakeholders across the country in efforts to ensure a peaceful election.

“There is no office we will not visit for engagement to make our voice heard. We will go to the people and talk to them as we believe that dialogue is the best way to end political antagonism,” she said.

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