The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has raised alarm over possibility of violence and chaos as the 2022 General Election inches closer.
In a document released earlier this week, the commission expressed concern of emerging trends in the infamous 2007 elections that may manifest again in upcoming 2022 polls if nothing is done. At least 1,400 people are reported to have died in ethnically-fuelled 2007/08 election violence.
In the latest report, NCIC highlights six major threats to peaceful elections. They include a deteriorated level of trust that Kenyans have for each other and towards the government and the strong sub-culture of violence.
Other worrying issues are culture of divisive and selfish politics, structural inequalities, ethnic polarisation and delayed and inadequate response to politics by the government authorities.
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NCIC also raised alarm to unresolved conflicts and tension of succession and transition within the context of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). The commission stated that the pre-election phase is already heated, as evidenced by recent political shifts.
“The existing concern is that the 2022 General Election draws several parallels to the 2007 one. For one, it will follow a possible Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)-inspired referendum that will amend parts of the constitution with the aim of reducing political competition. Moreover, most of the underlying causes of conflict identified in the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process largely remain unresolved,” noted the commission.
To address the looming problem, the commission’s chairperson Samuel Kobia announced strategies captured in a roadmap document they are undertaking as the election nears.
“Commissioners have spent a year going around the country listening to Kenyans and what they have to say on peace. Kenyans are peaceful but are victims of incitement and an irresponsible political class that casts us as both villains and victims in a nefarious game of political musical chairs,” Dr Kobia pointed out.
Among the solutions proposed by NCIC include quelling conflicts and responding to hate speech early, empowering Kenyans to make better decisions through civic education and building trust for each other.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who launched the strategy, pledged to support NCIC’s plan for peaceful elections.
Dr Matiang’i urged the commissioners and other concerned parties to do their job diligently, adding that Kenya should not have to deal with threats of election violence, nearly 60 years after attaining independence.
“We do not have a choice. We must have a peaceful election in 2022. Politicians should live with the reality that Kenyans will decide who leads them,” CS Matiang’i noted.
CS Matiang’i revealed that his ministry is working with the Communications Authority of Kenya to respond to the increasing cases of online hate speech and fake news.