EDITORIAL: Preach peace for if we burn whole country goes down

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Following the official launch of presidential campaigns and the submission of papers by candidates at various levels, it was inevitable that political temperatures would rise across the country.

However, the direction in which campaigns are being steered, even at this early stage of the game, points to serious trouble ahead.

An innocent woman, who was working hard to fend for her family in Bungoma, bled to death after being shot by a policeman on Friday.

Trouble had flared in the county after supporters of Ford-Kenya’s candidate for the position of governor, Wycliffe Wangamati, clashed with those of Governor Kenneth Lusaka after the two had been cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The fighting brought the county headquarters to a standstill for most of the afternoon.

Violence has also been reported in several counties across northern Kenya.

The repeated terror attacks on Mandera governor Ali Roba appear to be tied-in with local politics.

Laikipia, West Pokot and Baringo are other counties that have witnessed serious fighting.

Even more worryingly, national leaders do not appear to appreciate their responsibility to calm the tempers and unite the country.

In his tour of Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru on Friday, President Kenyatta urged voters to end Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s career to “free the country”.

Similar sharp words focusing on politics defined by ethnicity were heard at the Nasa rally in Kakamega on Saturday.

This is an unfortunate trend. Just like the 2007 presidential election, it is expected that the 2017 poll will be extremely closely fought.

In a situation where both sides say that they are certain of victory, it is important that leaders prepare their supporters psychologically that either side may win but that this should not be a trigger for a descent into anarchy.

The president should weigh his words carefully when addressing supporters.

The opposition, too, must embrace a spirit of fair competition and compete on a platform of ideas.

The current recklessness on display and the us-versus-them attitude that has become a hallmark of the campaign will lead to certain chaos after voting day.  

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