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Put an end to the culture of violence during campaigns

By Editorial | October 28th 2019 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Lessons glimpsed, but not learned will always come back to haunt us. Perhaps Kenya suffers the curse of elections because every electoral circle, violence rears its head.

The ignominy of the 2007-2008 post-election violence in which 1,300 Kenyans died should act as a beacon; guiding us on how to relate during campaigns. But that has been shunted aside if the violence witnessed in the Kibra parliamentary and the Ganda ward, Malindi Constituency by-elections is anything to go by.

In Ganda Ward an uncle of the Orange Democratic Movement candidate was shot dead during a meeting. 

On October 12, 2019, McDonald Mariga, the Jubilee candidate’s campaign convoy was attacked and one of his vehicles set ablaze in Kibra. Yesterday, violence erupted again in Kibra and this time, Musalia Mudavadi, Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader and Eliud Owalo, the party's candidate were on the receiving end after rowdy youths pelted their convoy.

In the midst of blame and counter-blame between ODM, Jubilee and ANC, we cannot readily establish who is at fault, which is why the police must act expeditiously to bring perpetrators to book.  

The culture of violence and impunity cannot be allowed to go deeper than it already has if we must build a united country.

Part of the reasons that informed the setting up of the Building Bridges Initiative following the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, was the acknowledgment that a divided country cannot progress and realise its dreams.

Our disunity as Kenyans arises from political differences where leaders fail to compete on a platform of ideas. For this reason, Jubilee and ODM leaders must go beyond rhetoric and whip their members into line.

Party adherents should be made to desist from acts of intolerance if we hope to eliminate the culture of electoral violence that has been our undoing for decades.

Democracy espouses a situation where the majority have their way while the minority have their say. This can only be achieved in an environment of mutual respect and recognition of every Kenyans’ constitutional rights and freedoms, including the right to sell one's vision and ideas during campaigns without intimidation from any quarters. Throwing stones at each other only shows that our democracy is still light years from maturity. 

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