By RAPHAEL OBONYO
If politicians are serious about the peace pronouncements they are making in the campaigns rallies, which was also the rallying echo in the recent peace conference in Mombasa, Parliament should pass the proposed National Policy on Peace Building and Conflict Management.
It is lamentable that the policy drafted five years ago has not been adopted, despite its great significance especially taking note that the nation is still divided along the ethnic lines that triggered post election violence in the last election.
Lack of a peace policy has had adverse impact on the ability of the State institutions to address conflict in Kenya. The National Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict Management established under the office of the President continues to face major challenges because it lacks the legal force to carry out its mandate.
The proposed peace policy envisions a peaceful and stable Kenya and seeks to establish peace infrastructure that would help to prevent, mitigate and effectively manage potential violent conflicts.
Over the years, the country has experienced internal and cross border conflict that escalate to violence.
However, the Government’s response and intervention have not been effective because the country lacks a peace and conflict management strategy anchored in a concrete policy and legal framework. In some cases, interventions have been fragmented and uncoordinated.
The policy is meant to streamline peace and conflict management programs in the country.
It proposes a comprehensive framework and measures that would that would mitigate conflict and violence in the country.
The policy proposes a collaborative approach to conflict management. It recognizes the important role that other key actors like the private sector, civil society and grass root organisations could play for the country to fully achieve peace and stability.
If the policy is passed, it would strengthen and institutionalise community based peace structures like local peace committees which play important roles in the communities.
Local mechanisms and initiatives of peace and reconciliation have achieved remarkable success in the regions that were affected by post election violence.
The policy suggests creation of peace committees that will address conflict at the national, county and local levels. The peace committees will also steer peace and security initiatives especially as we gear up towards the general elections.
No doubt, Kenya face significant security challenges because of instability in the neighbouring countries that contribute to cross boarder conflicts caused by proliferation of small arms and humanitarian crisis.
The countries borders are highly porous and there has been a huge influx of illegal arms in the country.