During the upcoming weeks, the Diakonia blog will feature blog entries related to the Kenyan election the 4th of March. The first entry is written by Collins Ongwen from Diakonia’s partner organization BAFOPE (Baghdad for Peace). BAFOPE’s main purpose is to promote justice, peace and sustainable development through capacity building, advocacy, leadership and youth mentorship.
Right now, Kenya is perparing for historic elections on the 4th of March, and the expectations and anxiety levels of the people are high. The elections of 2007 lead to the loss of over 1100 lives, massive destruction of property worth millions of Dollars, and serious polarization of a once united country. No one wants that to happen again, and that is why BAFOPE is right now working around the clock to make sure that it won’t.
With only 22 days to elections, the official campaigns have started. Kisumu, where BAFOPE operates, is considered a political hotspot and the community around Kisumu is enthusiastic about the election and hoping for the best for the local candidate Raila Odinga that represents the CORD coalition. Everybody in Kisumu is confident that the CORD coalition will win the elections.
My worry is that the people of Kisumu are too confident. Right now, there are no major worries in the city, but if the Kisumu candidate would lose the election, it is highly likely that it will be difficult for the people to accept the defeat. This will particularly be the case if the candidate loses against Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been put in front of the International Criminal Court for his crimes in the violent aftermath of the last election. Kenyatta’s candidacy is therefore a major factor in the election, and if he and his running mate end up winning, it will definetely increase the risk of violence and deaths related to the election.
People might wonder if it matters who will win the election. And I can assure you, it absolutely matters. If the ICC suspect wins, Kenya might not only be facing chaos after the election. We might also be facing international sanctions, and our country may become ungovernable. The image of Kenya will be tainted and it is my personal belief that the people of Kenya may not be content with such a government.
It is very important to prepare the youth who are the main perpetrators of violence for a peaceful and credible transition to avoid a repeat of the violence from the last election. Kenya is currently divided on tribal lines and it is only if the elections are free, fair and credible, that Kenyans will remain peaceful and united. With all this in mind, Bafope and several other organizations will do our best to ensure that the 2013 election will be remembered as an election of peace.
Collins Ongwen, BAFOPE