Last weekend, Initiatives of Change Kenya came together for a two-day meeting in Nakuru. There, they discussed Clean Elections Campaign (CEC). This meeting was necessary to discuss the planning and approach of this year's CEC. The goal of which is to help steer the country towards peaceful elections and to avoid a repeat of the 2007/2008 post-elections violence.
On December 27, 2007 violence broke out over contested election results. This lasted until late February 2008. The violence left as many as a thousand dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. This violence shocked Kenya and the world and requires extensive attention in order to avoid happening again.
IofC began the discussion with a question, "What is CEC?" The responses included educating the public on election processes, civic education, sensitizing the public, creating a culture of honesty, and bringing accountability to both the voters and the candidates themselves. CEC is necessary because there is a need for good leaders, encouragement to people to head to the polls, and encourage issue/value based campaigns rather than tribal affiliation and perhaps the greatest reason is to avoid a repeat of violence.
This meeting covered pragmatic issues such as resource management within IofC. As it is a relatively small NGO with limited resources, there had to be priority areas of the country to concentrate on. The priority areas decided on were the Rift Valley region due to the tribal diversity, it is the food basket of the country therefore any destabilization there affects the entire country's food supply, and because it is a politically sensitive area. The regions of Western and Nyanza will also receive attention as will Nairobi itself.
IofC was working off the assumption that the elections would take place in March 2013 and that there is a three-month period of official presidential campaigning, therefore campaigning would start end of December/early January. Wanting to synchronize IofC's public campaign for clean elections with the presidential elections, there are a few months before IofC begins to dispersing leaflets, brochures, fliers, and banners calling for peaceful elections. These items will be translated into English, Swahili, and several other local languages. This public face is just one aspect of the CEC. IofC will have several other actions that will begin as soon as possible. There will be individual visits to several towns and villages by IofC members stressing the importance of peaceful elections, presentations conducted at places of worship to reach as many people as possible, collaborations with other NGOs, businesses, religious leaders, and governmental organizations will be some ways that IofC will spread its message.
This enormous task comes with several challenges. Limited resources, reluctance of participation, insufficient education programs on civic education and the new constitution, and existing tensions from the previous elections all pose challenges. IofC's CEC has just begun and will do everything in its power to reach as far as possible to stress peaceful elections.