President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger Raila Odinga were on Friday united in calling for a stop to the spate of political intolerance a few weeks to the General Election.
As the two and Deputy President William Ruto condemned the political hooliganism, the electoral commission warned of penalties against any candidate found to be behind any form of violence and lawlessness meted against opponents.
The National Cohesion and Reconciliation Commission and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) as well as various leaders also weighed in, demanding an end to hooliganism as they expressed their fears that the ugly face of electoral violence appeared to be rearing its ugly head ahead of the August 8 polls.
Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance (Nasa) also sent separate statements asking their supporters not to engage in violence.
Speaking in Laikipia at the funeral of Laikipia Senator GG Kariuki, President Kenyatta warned that leaders fomenting violence would be met with “the full force of the law” even as he promised the country of a peaceful election.
“Those thinking that they will incite violence, community against community, that they will cause trouble – let me tell them, they are dreaming. We want peace and we shall have peace as Kenyans,” he said.
On his part, Mr Odinga, the Opposition flagbearer condemned the emerging culture of intolerance and violence at political rallies and told those who do not want a particular candidate not to attend his meetings.
“Such violence has not been witnessed in this campaign season.
"Peaceful protesting is a legitimate expression that people can employ to air their views to political leaders,” Mr Odinga said in interview with NTV on Thursday evening.
Mr Odinga downplayed the heckling he was subjected to during his campaign tours in Baringo and Kiambu counties in which he was forced to cut short his speech on both occasions attributing it to the work of few organised people, hired and ferried to disrupt the Nasa campaign.
“Our competitors must reign in their supporters because we believe this heckling is an excuse for the State to bring the police on the streets under the guise of election related violence,” he claimed.
“The heckling was not a rejection of our agenda because we were very much welcomed by a majority of people who were keenly listening to us.”
He also said that Nasa has condemned the heckling of Mr Ruto during Jubilee’s campaign in Kisumu.
Mr Ruto took to his twitter handle to condemn the violence and leaders inciting it, saying all leaders owe to Kenyans a peaceful election terming the increasing political intolerance as unacceptable.
“All Kenyans must refuse this dangerous, slippery and dark path that leads to conflict, chaos and anarchy. Everyone should be heard in dignity,” Mr Ruto said.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman warned candidates orchestrating violence recently witnessed in some parts of the country that they risk being barred from participating in the August poll.
Mr Wafula Chebukati told all candidates to adhere to the electoral code of conduct as they traverse the country for campaigns.
“The commission has dispatched its team of investigators to collect more information on the above cases and others.
"The commission will take several measures including fining offenders, suspending campaigns in the violence-prone areas and barring candidates from participating in the election,” Mr Chebukati said at a news conference in Nairobi on Friday.
“We call on all candidates, political parties and their supporters to conduct their campaigns with utmost restraint and in strict adherence to the Electoral code of conduct.”
Mr Chebukati said all Kenyans have a responsibility of ensuring that the electoral process is free from violence, intimidation, improper influence and corruption.
A joint statement from the secretaries-general of main parties in the Nasa coalition noted that all leaders should be allowed to address crowds and sell their ideas.
“We note with great concern the rising levels of political intolerance at rallies as reported in the past few days.
"It is our belief that in a democracy, it is important that all candidates be heard.
"These are national leaders, who must be allowed to explain how they would try to improve the lives of Kenyans,” they said.
They cited Kabarnet, Kisumu, Murang’a and Thika where such acts have been witnessed.
Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju said the freedom of speech of all Kenyans must be respected and that for democracy to function well, people must be assured of their safety and freedom to attend rallies.
He however asked Nasa to stop criticising the IEBC and peddling “conspiracy theories” that elections are going to be rigged.
“We urgently implore that Raila Odinga and the other Nasa co-principals prioritise public interest over and above their own political ambitions, and desist from stoking suspicions against Kenya’s electoral system in order to claim victory by undermining the credibility of the ballot.
“Nasa leaders should publicly profess their support for the IEBC and focus their campaign on their vision and policies for Kenya,” he said.
However, the Nasa team also alleged that Jubilee has been buying identity cards in areas perceived as Opposition strongholds.
“We use this opportunity to urge our supporters not to fall for this unethical and undemocratic act,” they said.
Last month, the electoral commission suspended campaigns in Siaya County for seven days following chaos that marred Mr Odinga’s rally in Rarieda.
The ban has since been lifted. The commission also fined Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka and his opponent, Mr Wafula Wangamati, Sh1 million each for breaching the electoral code of conduct.
Mr IEBC assured Kenyans that preparations for the elections were in top gear.
Mr Chebukati said copies of the voters register will be made available at all polling stations one week to the elections.
He also maintained that no further changes will be made to the register.
The chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on National Cohesion and nominated MP Johnson Sakaja and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights also condemned the heckling.