NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – Leaders attending a two -day conference in Mombasa on Friday called for the promotion of peace by all including the media.
Giving the keynote speech at the meeting, President Mwai Kibaki said peace and stability are paramount to achieving the development of any country.
The Head of State said the media should be careful in what they print or broadcast because not every statement by political leaders or their supporters is worth communicating to the wider audience.
Kibaki cited; ’Battle for State House’, ‘Politicians fight it out’, ‘War of words between candidates’ and ‘Rising tension ahead of elections’ as a few examples of screaming headlines that are common in the media.
“Such headlines give a bad name to what may otherwise be a healthy political competition. This kind of reporting creates fear among our people who start looking at elections as a period of hatred and despondency.” he said
He told the conference attended by MPs and leaders from the government and the corporate sector that Kenyans must break the cycle of violence during elections and assured that the country will remain peaceful after the elections.
“We should say this loudly and believe it because sometime it seems like we don’t believe,” he said.
Speaking at the same conference, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said politicians should avoid tribal politics as this only incites communities.
“How many tribes do we have in this country? 43 and when will it be the turn of the 43rd tribe to be elected? So we cannot be electing leaders based on ethnicity,” the PM said.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and National Speaker Kenneth Marende called on politicians to put aside all their differences and unite in ensuring a peaceful election.
Mutunga said the 14 presidential aspirants should hold joint rallies to promote the message to their supporters that the election must be peaceful adding that no one can rise to power in a non-peaceful environment.
Mutunga also warned that Kenya is sitting on the cauldron of simmering class warfare precipitated by poverty and widening social inequalities.