EDITORIAL: Top leaders’ pledge on violence crucial

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The pledges by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa candidate Raila Odinga to push for peaceful elections and ensure that the will of the people prevails at the ballot is significant in efforts to cool down political temperatures and heated altercations between the two main coalitions.

More crucially, their pledge to accept the results is important because anything to the contrary would have grave consequences.

Elections should never divide a nation and that democracy must be allowed to thrive.

The two are the most influential candidates in the coming poll and what they say or do has a sway on the populace.

The way they conduct their campaigns, the discipline they instil in their supporters and the ideologies they espouse will determine the political environment.

However, we know that this is not the first time they are making such pledges.

When they were nominated by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) about a fortnight ago, they both pledged to conduct decent campaigns.

But what has transpired in the past couple of days is far from that.

The candidates, together with their supporters, have been going for the jugular.

Political rallies are poisoned by offensive language, false accusations and revolting statements.

And the violent exchanges are extended to social media.

But peaceful elections go beyond the political players.

First and foremost, the IEBC must create a conducive environment. It must prepare adequately and ensure its systems work.

This is why we are concerned about the contestations over the procurement of ballot papers or administrative decisions that pit the commissioners against the secretariat.

Such misgivings undermine public confidence in the commission.

Similarly, it must enforce rules and regulations. No candidate or political grouping should have an unfair advantage over their rivals.

We urge the leaders to abide by the promises they have made and compel their supporters to follow suit, as we demand that the IEBC deliver a credible election, as that remains the best defence against political violence.

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