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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenyan lobby urges peaceful campaigns to avert poll skirmishes

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- There is need for aspirants for various political seats to tone down inflammatory rhetoric in order to prevent civil disruptions as Kenya gears up for August 8 general elections, a lobby group said on Tuesday.

Senior officials from the Kenyan Chapter of African Bar Association said at a press briefing in Nairobi the East African nation’s stability hinges on civil political discourse that unites instead of dividing citizens along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Alex Gatundu, the Secretary General of African Bar Association, Kenyan affiliate stressed that respect to the rule of law, non-interference with independent institutions and issues-based campaigns were key to facilitating smooth political transition during the August polls.

“Every citizen in this country has a constitutional right to participate in an electoral process. However, the quest for elective seats should not jeopardize peace and stability in the country,” Gatundu said.

He urged aspirants for political seats and their supporters to engage in peaceful campaigns to avoid electoral related violence like the one Kenya witnessed in 2007 to 2008.

The campaign season has entered homestretch as Kenya gears up for hotly contested elections of a new president, lawmakers, county executives and ward representatives.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his rival in the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), Raila Odinga are running well-oiled campaigns in an attempt to grab a higher number of votes.

Heated rhetoric during this campaign season has raised concern from Kenya’s bilateral partners and rights advocates.

The European Union recently warned against possible eruption of poll-related chaos in the absence of deterrent measures.

At the same time, rights groups have raised alarm over growing inter-tribal tensions in the Rift Valley region linked to incitement by local politicians.

Gatundu said that leading political parties, the polls agency and security personnel have a responsibility to ensure peace and stability prevails during the August polls.

“Every arm of government and contestants for elective posts should agree on modalities of maintaining peace during the entire election cycle,” said Gatundu, adding that peaceful elections will strengthen Kenya’s economic and diplomatic clout.

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