One of the most revered 20th Century proponent of non-violent resistance -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in his submissions on peace opined that “True Peace is not merely the absence of tension, rather, it is the presence of Justice”
Six Months ago, in this very column, I wrote about the 2017 elections and the cost of sustainable peace. -Outlining the difference between positive peace and negative peace, while expressing my fears on how Kenya has heavily invested on the latter.
Just to recap, negative peace is the art of avoiding large scale physical violence. Irrespective of whether the issues that would otherwise bring about this violence are addressed or not. All you need to do is simply engage in cosmetics just before and during an election. Then immediately after, fold up and take a nap. But with positive peace, you delve into the issues bringing about conflict, uproot them and plant conditions necessary for sustainable peace.
It is now 47 days to Kenya’s 2017 elections. And here we are at it again -talking about peace.
But just to set the record straight before going any further -Everybody wants peace. Actually, everybody NEEDS peace. Any normal functioning society must have it. But at what cost? It doesn’t come cheap you know – well, unless it is negative peace!
Interior CS General Nkaiseri yesterday would state that 20 out of the 47 Counties have been marked as hot-spots this elections. What are the conflicts in these Counties? Are they similar or is each County unique?
One aspect of this elections is of particular interest. It is a Presidential contest -where allegations after the next have been raised about its credibility. And at the center stage is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. From whether the elections processes would be tamper proof, to cleaning of the voter register, to ballot paper tendering process, to allegations of particular individuals within the secretariat leaning towards a particular player -among many others.
Kenyans, on their part, are pretty much decided on how they will be casting their vote come August. Or at least, they seem so. But still they have to confront the devil that visits every five years. The fear of violence…………………………….This same fear that has now led the Catholic Bishops to try and appeal to the IEBC to revisit the ballot paper tendering process with no avail.
This begging the question, should Kenyans focus on having a credible election, or should they just focus on a peaceful one?
Article 38(2) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 states in verbatim “Every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections based on universal suffrage and the free expression of the will of the electors……………….” So it is my submission that the IEBC must move with speed to guarantee Kenyans that their rights to a free, fair and credible elections are more than intact. This will in essence help to cool down the rising political temperatures. That’s first. Secondly, with a free, fair and credible elections, PEACE is an assured result irrespective of who wins or losses. Actually, it is peace that wins.
Thus, to all patriotic citizens, peace builders and peace preachers, irrespective of political inclination, to start -in truth- cultivating sustainable peace in Kenya, we have a duty to ensure that the IEBC carries a free, fair, tamper proof and credible elections. It even builds more confidence in one as a leader when they win in a fair and transparent manner.
It will not be honest therefore, to preach peace while at the same time burying our heads under the sand on the credibility of the processes.
Positive peace that leads to sustainability is not only about ensuring that there are no tensions, but about uprooting vulnerabilities that cause conflict. Vulnerabilities such as mistrust in processes.
In conclusion, credibility has never been sacrificed at the altar of peace, rather, it is at the altar of credibility that peace has been granted bountifully.