UNDP Convenes Discussions on Peaceful Elections
Over fifty representatives of organizations and institutions dealing in peace and development met June 23rd to 25th to share ideas on strengthening coordination and leadership towards reducing electoral violence in Kenya. The consultative meeting held at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha under the auspices of UNDP’s Peace building program and the Strengthening Electoral Process in Kenya (SEPK) Project was in essence a reconstitution of the UWIANO Platform for Peace which proved to be an effective peace machinery during the 2010 referendum campaigns and the 2013 general elections.
The meeting took place at a time when there were signs of a possible recurrence of Kenya’s cyclic electoral violence. In the last few months, the main opposition, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), has been pushing for the reconstitution the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission ahead of the 2017 general elections. This led to street demos and violent clashes between demonstrators and the police at a time when a few politicians from both CORD and the ruling Jubilee Coalition began to take advantage of the politically tense environment to perpetuate ethnic animosity.
In the two days of serious and honest deliberations, participants undertook a wide range of activities including sharing experiences and lessons learnt, performing a contextual analysis of prevailing election-related conflicts, building possible scenarios around the 2017 general elections and discussing strategies for coordination and resource mobilization.
The discussions offered perspectives and insights which translated into specific resolutions and action points. For example, participants agreed to institute timely and coordinated response to potential conflicts within the UWIANO peace machinery. Considering the time and resources put in reconstituting the platform, participants agreed to keep UWIANO active beyond the general elections.
All speakers alluded to UWIANO’s great potential and the need for all stakeholders to invest in it. Speaking on behalf of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Commissioner Dr. Roba Sharamo lauded the participants for the efforts they had so far put into revamping the platform. ‘‘This meeting couldn’t have come at a better time. Now we have to move with speed and bring together our expertise, experiences and competitive advantages in preventing violent conflict,” he said.
The UWIANO Platform for Peace is the brain-child initiative of the National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management (NSC), National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Peace and Development Network Trust (PeaceNet Kenya) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women.
The soon-to-be-relaunched platform has attracted many new members and partners including the National Police Service (NPS), Council of Governors (CoG), Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) within its principal partners. This is aimed at scaling up peacebuilding and conflict management initiatives not only around political and electoral processes, but to support sustainable peace in Kenya and beyond.
Even as they join UWIANO for the first time, the new members have been involved in peace building and conflict management in different ways. IRCK for instance has been at the center of the negotiations that saw the Jubilee and CORD coalitions agree to dialogue with each other over the IEBC stalemate that sparked violent demonstrations in some parts of the country.
“Given the nature of our country today, this UWIANO initiative is as important as ever, particularly in light of the fact that we are witnessing a disturbing rise of intolerance, hate speech and prejudice in many of our communities,” said Mr. Hassan Mutubwa, IRCK Program’s Officer.
While appreciating the growth of UWIANO, UNDP Peace and Development Advisor, Mr. Anthony Agyenta reminded participants of the need to put more efforts in the coordination of the platform’s activities. “Despite the platform’s impressive membership, we will not achieve much if we do not build synergy. Whatever we do we must speak with one voice as UWIANO,” he said.