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Push for peace at tail end of poll campaigns

Posted on 1st Jan 1970 01:00:00 in

Law Society of Kenya Chairman Isaac Okero (left) and Chief Justice David Maraga during the launch of the Judiciary Electoral Disputes Resolution book at the Supreme Court in Nairobi yesterday. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

With three days to the polls, pressure piled on politicians, elections managers, security chiefs and judges to ensure a successful general election.

And Thursday two developments appeared to calm rising tensions on a day President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival Raila Odinga retreated to their perceived strongholds to plead for high voter turnout with campaigns closing tomorrow.

The decision by Opposition leaders to back down from their hard-line position that their supporters should camp at polling stations averted a looming confrontation with security forces as authorities insisted they would enforce the law requiring unauthorised persons to stay at least 400 metres away.

And a court order directing the electoral agency to make public the register of voters was also a significant development because lack of transparency on those listed to vote has been cited in vote-rigging claims.

Some 22 foreign diplomats said their nations had no preferred presidential candidate or party in Tuesday’s elections and cited high voter turnout, unfettered press freedom and war on hate mongers among hallmarks for democracy.

“Political competition should never turn into bloodshed, and no one should die because of an election,” the envoys said in a joint statement.

And religious leaders turned the spotlight on politicians it accused of scheming to fan violence, and asked the electoral commission to ensure the electronic systems work and security forces to protect all Kenyans. See Also: IEBC conduct will determine aftermath of Tuesday's elections

The leaders, who represented Christians, Muslims and Hindus, in particular pressed Uhuru and Raila to respect voters’ verdict.

“They need to publicly commit to accept the election results announced by the IEBC or to file petitions in court if they are not satisfied with what is announced. They have no right to incite supporters to engage in demonstrations or violence against other Kenyans should the results not be in their favour,” said the leaders who included Eldoret Diocese Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir in a statement read in turns by clerics from the different faiths.

Chief Justice David Maraga asked Kenyans to have confidence in the Judiciary, saying the courts are prepared to handle any subsequent elections petitions with impartiality.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said after voting, voters would be expected to stay 400 metres away from the polling station as required by the law, to give room for the electoral body to conduct its activities.

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