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Politicians must avoid careless, inciteful talk

By Editorial | November 14th 2021

Residents of Kawangware district of Nairobi barricade a road after the 2017 election results. [File, Standard]

Kenya is entering a critical phase in the electioneering period and politicians must be careful with their words in public events.

The violent scenes witnessed in Kondele, coming shortly after similar incidents in Busia, have become a subject of partisan discussion among politicians, some of whom have gone as far as rationalising the violence.

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have condemned the violence but it is worrying that this is being used to peddle a familiar narrative about ODM leader Raila Odinga, accusing him of being behind the incident.

As August 9, 2022, General Election draws near, the country is paying more attention to the leading presidential contenders.

The scenes witnessed over the past month should sound like a warning against political violence. The chaos triggered by political contests can engulf a country in no time. Kenya is not an exception.

Words uttered during this critical time could easily lead to anarchy. It is in order for politicians to defend their leaders, but the comments made over the week should not distract us from the issue at hand.

These innocuous statements plant seeds of violence and undermine the electoral process. No one would wish that on any country.

Having a divergent opinion is one of the centrepieces of democracy, but this partisan competition should not degenerate into physical confrontations.

Politicians need to be careful about making remarks that seek to inflame passions. Scars of political violence are still fresh in Kenya and it would be unfortunate to lose more lives over an election.

There have been attempts, from the police and the leaders to explain the genesis of the Kondele incident as disagreements over campaign mobilisation funds. The relevant agencies should get to the bottom of such incidents.

Still, the trends of violent acts should concern every Kenyan, and rather than rationalising the violence, the police should bring the perpetrators to book.

Raila and Ruto should steer away from statements that pander to the differences between them and avoid war analogies that can easily be misinterpreted by their passionate followers.

This is also the time for the National Cohesion and Integration Committee (NCIC) to demonstrate that it is not all bark and no bite.

Let it clean up the political scene, and leave it devoid of politicians who give hateful speeches.

Peace and security are important and it is imperative for politicians to be mindful of their actions and utterances.

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