Kenyan leaders urged to foster peace

June 18, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – The Five commissions set up under Agenda Four have sent a passionate appeal to President Mwai Kibaki to take a lead in setting up an “infrastructure for a peaceful and a cohesive referendum by sending out messages that reinforce the cohesion agenda.”

National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia who read a joint statement on Friday urged the Head of State to ensure ongoing Constitution campaigns are peaceful and tolerant after their earlier plea for cessation after Sunday’s blasts at Uhuru Park was ignored.

“If the President and the Prime Minister believe in this commission they would take the necessary measures to ensure the fears are allayed. They will put security measures on the ground and the necessary dialogue,” he said .

Earlier in the week Dr Kibunjia had asked President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to halt the campaigns until the stipulated official time that commences in mid July.

“Ours is merely advice but under the Constitution the responsibility of ensuring peace and security in the nation is vested upon the President,” said Committee of Experts (CoE) Chairman Nzamba Kitonga.

The commissions noted that the campaigns have started to take acrimonious tendencies and the trend of hate speech could polarise the country.

“Intolerance, hate speech, incitement to violence and divisive statements have become part and parcel of the campaign language,” the committees’ chairpersons noted while urging both camps to “conduct their campaigns with dignity and decorum.”

The NCIC, CoE, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) and the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) expressed a desire to ensure a peaceful and unified referendum.

“To deliver a cohesive referendum effectively we are calling for the support of state machinery and partners and all Kenyans,” said their statement.

The chairman of the IIBRC Andrew Ligale said: “We want to remind Kenyans that whether Yes or No we are going to remain in this country.”

The five leaders said they would work with government agencies, religious leaders, the private sector and other civic organisations towards strategies to deliver the joint call.

“The referendum is a process and the way we conduct the campaigns is going to have a lot of impact on the voting and even the post referendum,” said IIEC Chairman Issack Hassan.

“Kenya is for all of us and whether we come out divided, united or disintegrated after voting will all depend on us,” added TJRC vice Chairperson Tecla Namachanja.

All the five commissions were created to spearhead institutional and Constitutional reform after the deadly 2008 post-election violence.


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