The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has urged residents and politicians to maintain peace and order during the campaign period ahead of the August 9th General Elections.

Speaking on behalf of NCIC Chairman Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia during the Kara Bi-Monthly Forum held in Eldoret on 1st April 2022, Mr. Gilbert Onyango urged residents of Uasin Gishu County to take charge of their individual responsibility of maintaining peace and political tolerance before and after the August 9th General Elections. The forum whose theme was “Role of Organized Community Groups towards Peaceful & Successful 2022 Elections in Kenya” was addressed by Dr. Bramwel Matui, Senior Lecturer in Political Science & Public Administration, Moi University, and Mr. Gilbert Onyango, representing the Chairman, National Cohesion and Integration Commission. The moderator was Mr. Wesley Chirchir.

Speaking at the forum Dr. Matui stated that elections sustain and promote democratic governance and development in Kenya. He however noted that while violent conflict remains a feature of Kenya’s socio-political landscape, it peaks in intensity and impact around the time of elections. This electoral violence is driven by political manipulation of ethnic differences against a background of other structural causes, including lingering historical grievances for instance over land and other economic resources, and a stalled national conversation on wider societal injustices. He therefore stated that community groups such as resident associations play a critical role inpromoting peace, reconciliation and coexistence as well as social justice and the development of democratic institutions during election period.

Mr. Gilbert Onyango stated that The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) played a pivotal role in leading other peace stakeholders in the launch of the Roadmap for a peaceful 2022 General Elections. He noted that the overall objective of the NCIC election roadmap was to ensure a peaceful electioneering period during the 2022 General Elections while outlining established roadblocks to peaceful elections. The Commission has highlighted six roadblocks, namely: Lack of trust, Sub-Culture of Violence, Divisive and Selfish Politics, Ethnic Polarization, Untimely & Inadequate Response to Conflict and Structural Inequalities. He added that the launch of the Roadmap was a culmination of one-on-one engagement with Kenyans across the country and the voices of Kenyans concerning peace in the country. He urged residents to play an individual role in preventing conflicts and urged political leaders to take responsibility when engaging the citizens and focus more on issue based politics over ethnic politics.
The participants at the forum also underscored the important role played jointly by the media and civil society groups as watchdogs for the society, in holding the government and other public institutions accountable in matters of governance, democracy and the rule of law.

The participants noted that as the country moves towards the 2022 General Elections, concerns remain on a number of issues including: inadequate access to information, freedom of expression, rampant corruption, non-adherence ethical leadership, national values and accountable governance, delay in effecting critical electoral reforms, elections campaign financing, the disruptions with new legislative proposals from Parliament, release of funds and underfunding of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as factors which are likely to hinder election preparations.

The participants also expressed concern over the increasing political polarization in the country observing that the increasing toxic pronouncements from the leaders and supporters of the emerging political factions will impact the country negatively and lead to conflicts and insecurity in many parts of the country.
The forum emphasised the need for a multi-institutional approach by various stakeholders such as the media, civil-society organizations, and faith-based organizations among others, to advocate for timely enactment of electoral reforms as well as the discharge of other electoral-related activities by relevant state and non-state actors, if the country is to realize a free, transparent, peaceful and credible elections that will guarantee stability.