Appeal for peace as Kenya votes
Posted Monday, March 4 2013 at 02:00
Kenyans have a chance to demonstrate that they have put the ghosts of 2008 behind them. They can do this by showing a genuine commitment to peace.
Kenyans go to the polls today in an election that has attracted worldwide attention. Given the violent nature of the country’s last elections, the international community and the East African region in general, and Kenyans in particular, are appealing for free, fair and peaceful elections!
The violence that erupted after the December, 2007 elections plunged our neighbours into deep ethic divisions that left scores dead after the disputed elections. The effects of the events of early 2008 were far-reaching. Many Kenyans were displaced, others fled into neighbouring countries, vibrant lives brutality cut short, politicians assassinated, communities torn apart, leaving the country more polarised.
Kenya being East Africa’s economic power house, it is inevitable that the slightest instability in the country would impact greatly on the economy of the entire East African region. Ugandans can attest to the sharp rise in fuel costs and the resultant increase in consumer products during Kenya’s election violence. For a landlocked country that depends mainly on the Mombasa sea port, it is in the interest of Ugandans that today’s elections are carried out peacefully.
While Uganda now has an alternative route—the Southern Corridor to the Dar es Salaam port, this is a longer route that, for now, will remain a viable option but not a preferred alternative. Any disruption in Kenya is, therefore, an interruption on key trade routes, which subsequently affects the economy of not just Uganda but the entire Great Lakes region.
Though Kenya’s politics remains clearly polarised, it was uplifting to see various groups and the presidential candidates preaching peace and unity. However, major issues resulting from the election violence, such as the pending ICC process involving two of the major players in this election, remain unresolved.
As Kenyans cast their ballots today, the key contenders in the elections must keep in mind that as Kenyans, they need each other to unite their huge number of supporters to take their country forward. The stability of Kenya depends entirely on the message they send to their supporters.
Kenyans have a chance to demonstrate that they have put the ghosts of 2008 behind them. They can do this by showing a genuine commitment to peace and ensuring that today’s elections reflect a mature democratic process.