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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Kenya pledges action on campaign
violence, urges political tolerance   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) --  Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has pledged to take stern action against aspirants for elective seats linked to sponsoring violence during campaigns.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati told journalists in Nairobi that a crackdown on individuals suspected of involvement in campaign violence has commenced to ensure Kenya conducts free, credible and transparent polls in August.

“The commission will not tolerate any act of political intolerance and any aspirant for public office who violates electoral code of conduct to engage in violent campaigns will be liable for persecution,” Chebukati said.

He spoke to reporters in Nairobi against a backdrop of campaign violence witnessed in three counties of Kisumu, Baringo and Kiambu this week.

During an incident in Western Kenya city of Kisumu, which is an opposition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) stronghold, rowdy youths heckled at an entourage led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto after they commissioned projects on Wednesday.

The NASA Presidential Flag bearer, Raila Odinga and his co-principals on the same day faced hostilities while on a campaign tour of Jubilee Party stronghold in Baringo County in northwest region.

Odinga and his entourage on Thursday was again heckled by rowdy youth while on a campaign tour of Kenyatta’s backyard in Kiambu County.

A cross section of Kenyans including religious and political leaders, private sector lobby and heads of independent institutions condemned acts of hooliganism during campaigns.

Chebukati revealed that the electoral body has deployed a team of investigators to the counties that were affected by the latest campaign violence to unearth the identity of perpetrators.

“We have dispatched our investigators to collect more information on the sponsors of the recent campaign violence. Our findings will be made public in the next couple of days,” said Chebukati

He added the electoral agency has put solid measures in place to ensure the August 8 polls are free from violence, intimidation and voter bribery.

Meanwhile, Speaking in Laikipia in central Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned leaders fomenting violence ahead of August elections that they would be met with the full force of the law, and promised the restive county of a peaceful election.

“Those thinking that they will incite violence, community against community, that they will cause trouble—let me tell them, they are dreaming,” Kenyatta said.

“It will not happen. We will not let you. You will see, you will see tough action,” the President said of local politicians blamed for conflicts over grazing land, as well as attacks on private ranches in Laikipia.

President Kenyatta said that individuals would also not be allowed to invade private land and destroy private property in the name of politics or protecting tribal interests.

The President spoke as leaders at the funeral called for a meeting of leaders from Laikipia, Samburu, Turkana and Baringo to try to find a lasting solution to perennial conflicts among mainly pastoralist communities in the region.

He urged both leaders and residents to uphold dialogue in addressing challenges facing the region instead of engaging in violence and lawlessness.

The president’s remarks came after six Kenyan police officers were killed and four others seriously injured on Wednesday after being ambushed by bandits in Laikipia County.

Laikipia area is increasingly becoming a conflict zone as people and wildlife are killed with impunity, livestock stolen, houses razed and property looted.

The county, known for large ranches established in the pre-independence period by Kenya’s white community, has in recent months been hit by conflict, pitting private ranch owners against Pokot and Samburu herders.

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