Political violence has no place in this year’s polls

Raila Odinga’s chopper was stoned in Soy on Friday. [Courtesy]

The stoning of Azimio la Umoja presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga’s chopper in Soy on Friday is most unfortunate and must be condemned.

It exposes lack of political maturity and a dangerous trend that must be nipped in the bud as Kenyans head to the August 9 General Election.

It is commendable that Deputy President William Ruto took upon himself to apologise to Raila and his entourage, on behalf of the rowdy crowd from his supposed political backyard.

The DP, who is Raila’s main challenger in the presidential contest, aptly said that those behind the attack should regret their actions. He also pledged to work with security agencies to get to have the culprits brought to book and seek to secure this year’s campaigns and elections. Raila’s team has also committed to a peaceful electoral process and urged Kenyans to be tolerant of everyone’s political views.

Elections should not be basis for hatred and cause of violence. All candidates must be allowed to visit any part of the country and sell their agenda and manifesto. Raila should be secure seeking votes in Sugoi, just as Ruto should enjoy interacting with Kondele residents while eyeing their support. That would be a mark of political maturity and understanding that electoral contests should not be a matter of life and death.

In between elections, Kenyans from all walks of life, region or communities, interact and do business with each other without thinking twice. Why should elections form a basis of discrimination and intense competition? The answer lies in Kenyan voters understanding that they are the politicians’ bosses, and that they should show the door any leader sowing hatred.

In developed democracies, electoral campaigns rarely disrupt a people’s way of life. Candidates go about explaining why they are best suited for the job, then wait for the people’s choice through the ballot. Kenya’s economy has suffered greatly due to disruptions related to elections. It is estimated that billions of shillings are lost every electoral cycle to activities that should be easily affordable.  

Finally, the police and security agencies must step up vigilance and secure all presidential hopefuls. The authorities must always be top of their game and act on intelligence during this electioneering period. As the State House aspirants campaign across the country, the police must assure of their safety at all times. Enough police officers should for instance be allocated to the main contenders at their homes and campaign rallies.

The politicians should also be careful how they respond to such incidents in Uasin Gishu. It would be unfortunate to blow out of proportion such chaotic incidents or downplay them. Let security agencies get to the bottom of lapses and secure all Kenyans, the leaders and their supporters.