Leaders must rally for national peace

Sunday November 19 2017

By EDITORIAL
More by this Author

The government should come out strongly and calm down the tension that has gripped Nairobi and other areas.

There is a lot of anxiety, directly linked to the unresolved political contest. Yesterday, Nairobi’s informal settlements of Mathare, Kibera and Kawangware, were extremely tense.

Skirmishes were also reported in Kisumu, which in recent times has become a hotbed for political agitation.

All these are the consequences of the acrimony generated during the long electioneering period, and especially, the presidential poll, whose outcomes have been challenged twice.

Coming after the Friday chaos that pitted National Super Alliance supporters against the police, all these incidents point to a graver picture. Incessant conflicts between police and citizens or between communities are a prerequisite to a serious conflagration.

VERDICT

There is a more poignant reason to be concerned about the state of the nation, though.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on the petitions filed against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s controversial October 26 election victory.

It is a deeply divisive subject and whatever the outcome, this will generate deep emotions with the potential to trigger more violence.

When the Supreme Court, on September 1 quashed the outcome of the August 8 presidential election, the country was thrown into a spin.

One section of the population went into wild celebrations, while the other cursed.

But it brought out the worst in both President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, who, uncharacteristically, launched tirades against the judges, cheered on by their supporters.

REACT

It was an unprecedented ruling and nobody knew how to react.

Now, we know that the court ruling could go either way and that whatever the verdict, we must all act with restraint and decorum.

In particular, we caution the police to act with prudence. Their propensity to use brute force is anachronistic and must stop.

Leaders must caution their followers against reckless actions that might trigger violence.

We have repeatedly said that the country is sitting on a time bomb that could explode at the slightest trigger. We must not get there.