Kenya VP asks unions to build peace

August 31, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – Trade Unions across the world have an important role to play in conflict prevention and resolution, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said on Monday.

Mr Musyoka noted that the workers unions have immense experience and skills in the negotiation process and compromise that would help in cultivating an environment of tolerance and dialogue.

"Their ability to organise effectively and carry out a structured social dialogue makes them reliable and influential partners in conflict resolution efforts," Mr Musyoka said.

The Vice President made the remarks when he presided over the official opening of COTU/PANAF Sub- Regional Conference on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in Africa held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi.

The five-day conference brings together participants from across Africa to deliberate on the role of trade unions in conflict prevention, management and resolution.

The Vice President called on African states to urgently address the root cause of conflicts in the continent, which he noted, arose from religious differences, fight for resources, politics and violation of human rights.

Mr Musyoka said there is need for every country to uphold human freedom and democracy while securing   political and civil rights as a foundation for a just and peaceful society.

He particularly challenged trade unions to be at the forefront in identifying potential conflict environment and help prevent troublesome situation that may undermine the well-being of workers and the society in general.

"Trade unions should also fight against inequality and violation of basic human rights as part of wider campaign to address the underlying causes of conflicts in the continent,” Mr Musyoka stressed.

The Vice President commended the role of COTU Kenya for the role they played towards ending the post-election violence in the country and their efforts in peace building and reconciliation. Mr Musyoka said the government appreciates and recognises the important work undertaken by the organisation, saying they would always be called upon during arbitration efforts and peace building processes.

Internal Security Minister, Prof George Saitoti, said the government is encouraging inter-community dialogue on issues of conflict resolution through series of reconciliation meetings at the grassroots level with the help of provincial administration.

Prof Saitoti added that the government has drafted National Policy on Peace Building and Conflict Management adding that once approved, it will provide direction to all conflict management programmes in the country and across the borders.

He attributed conflict and general insecurity in Africa to post independence dictatorial regimes that denied people their basic rights including inequality in the distribution of national resources.

The Minister called on African governments to embrace true democratic principles  and  pursue the necessary institutional  reforms that would  guarantee  freedom, good governance and the rule of law.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Mutula Kilonzo, said the Ministry is undertaking major reforms in the Judiciary that would include transparent recruitment of judges through competitive process of hiring.

Mr Kilonzo said revitalization of legal and judicial sector if underway to address the effects of post-election violence.

He rooted for  a local  tribunal to try perpetrators of post election violence saying the country’s constitutional mechanism  has not failed to warrant foreign courts to deal with  such cases.

The COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli, attributed Africa’s tribulations to high levels of poverty, unemployment, proliferation of firearms and exploitation by  rich countries through multinational companies trading on continents natural resources.

The Secretary General urged Africa to strengthen regional economic blocs to promote intra-African trade and fully utilize continents vast economic potentials.

Also present included, the International Trade Union General Secretary for Africa, Adu Amankwa and the General Secreatry, Organization of African Trade  Union, Hassan Haji Sanmonu among other participants.


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