President Uhuru Kenyatta has challenged leaders to ensure next year’s elections are peaceful and credible.
“We should not allow election violence to define our country’s politics. Our politics should not be personality based but issues based,” the Head of State said.
He was speaking at a Leadership Summit organised by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) and Parliament at Leisure Lodge Resort in Diani, Kwale County.
Mr Kenyatta assured Kenyans he and his party’s campaigns will be peaceful and urged other political players to follow suit.
The President and other leaders, among them Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, signed a peace pledge committing themselves to promoting peace before, during and after the elections.
He urged the private sector to engage the opposition to also make a commitment.
Few Cord lawmakers turned up after opposition leader Raila Odinga accused Kepsa of bias and supporting Jubilee.
The private sector announced at the forum that it will, through the Mkenya Daima initiative, criss-cross the country and use the media to urge Kenyans to elect untainted leaders who value peace.
The initiative’s co-chairman, Mr Polycarp Igathe, said fears of electoral violence were a threat to business.
Mr Igathe appealed to the government to crack the whip on leaders with integrity issues.
Kepsa chairman Dennis Awori said with the political temperature rising, leaders had a duty to guide wananchi to avoid animosity and violence.
“Kenyans have a right to elect their leaders but they have a responsibility to elect the right ones,” said Mr Awori.
He said Kenyans have a duty to hold leaders accountable without putting tribe ahead of reason. “You cannot elect a vulture and expect a parrot or a dove. Political leaders have a responsibility over their utterances,” he said.
Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro said most people who engage in hate speech and violence are politicians. “We must all commit ourselves to a free, fair and credible election,” he said.
TEAR KENYANS APART
Speaker Muturi said Kenyans must not allow politics to divide them. “The national leadership must assure Kenyans that elections must never and should not tear Kenyans apart,” he said.
High Court Judge Msagha Mbogholi, who represented Chief Justice David Maraga, said the judiciary was ready to deal with election matters.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba explained the frustrations his team faced when clearing candidates for elective positions.
He said the commission relied on information from agencies like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, police and Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Unless there is contrary evidence, we go with that. A case under investigation cannot be a factor in disqualifying a candidate because the matter has not been determined,” Mr Chiloba said.
He also said unlike before, only voters whose names are captured in the biometric register will be allowed to vote.
Kenyans in the diaspora will be allowed to vote for the president but Mr Chiloba said they were considering the eligible countries.
Participants blamed weak law enforcement for politicians with serious cases colluding with lawyers and judicial officers to delay them in the courts.
They said agencies mandated to bar aspirants who failed to meet the constitutional leadership and integrity requirements had failed Kenyans.