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Youths come together to condemn election violence

By Kevine Omollo and antony Gitonga | Published Thu, January 5th 2017 at 00:00, Updated January 4th 2017 at 21:49 GMT +3
Eye Witness group leader Becky Onyancha during a peace meeting for the youth in Kisumu. More youths are coming out to denounce violence ahead of the August 8 General Election. [PHOTO:DENISH OCHIENG/STANDARD]

Youths in Nyanza and parts of Central have stepped up peace campaigns in political violence hotspots.

In Kisumu, teams of youths have formed an organisation called 'Eye Witness' to help map out areas prone political violence.

"What we have discovered is that some of the youths do not access peace messages, hence find themselves in violence not because they like it," said Becky Onyancha, the organisation's leader.

The youths drawn from the seven sub-counties in Kisumu are expected to form a communication network to engage their peers in churches, schools and places of work to discuss peace.

They are set to recruit representatives in all villages and wards in Kisumu Central, Kisumu East, Kisumu West, Seme, Nyando, Nyakach and Muhoroni to coordinate their programs.

With Kisumu already on the security radar as one of the political violence hotspots, the organisation expressed fear that police might victimise innocent youths in the area.

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"We will help in monitoring the situation and promoting peace," said Onyancha.

In Naivasha, the youth have been joined by leaders in the area to start a massive campaign to promote ethnic harmony during the electioneering period.

The vibrant, multi-ethnic town is usually a ghost of itself during the electioneering period, as many residents retreat to their home villages for fear of violence.

The Naivasha Youth Platform says it is determined that no person will flee the town in this year's eletions.

"We call on all communities living and working in Naivasha that this is their home and there is no need to flee," said  Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua when he launched the peace campaigns.

Area Youth leader Andry Opiyo called for mature and peaceful campaigns.

"We have declared that no one will flee from Naivasha during the campaign and election period and that we shall lead from the front in making sure that this town is peaceful," he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by church leaders in the area who pledged their support.

"The picture of families fleeing in 2007 still haunts us. We shall make sure that this is not repeated come the elections," said Bishop Joseph Wambugu.