UNESCO and Partners Run for Peaceful Elections ahead of Kenya’s 2022 Polls

As we move closer to elections day in Kenya, Special Olympics Kenya, the National Police Service, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, UNESCO and the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya joined hands for a National flagging-off ceremony of the Amani Torch Run 2022 as part of a nation-wide call and campaign, officially launched on 28 June 2022 at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi with a unique goal; Running for peaceful and violence-free elections in Kenya in 2022, with a the Campaign and placed under the slogan “Elections Bila Noma”.

Indeed, on 9th August 2022, all Kenyans at voting age will be called upon to exercise their constitutional and civic right to vote and participate in the 2022 General elections in a democratic process to choose their future leaders in electing the President, Members of the National Assembly and Senate, County Governors and Members of the 47 County Assemblies that will guide the destinies of the Nation for the next five years.

It is within this context that Special Olympics Kenya athletes, Police, and other partners completed a 10km walk from Kasarani Stadium where the “Torch of Hope” was lightened to Ruaraka Police Post where it was handed over the to the National police Service, and kick-starting this National Run for promoting peace in preparation to the General Elections in August and that will reach out to 20 million youth with and without intellectual disabilities and cover the 47 counties of Kenya, and scheduled to last until 5th July 2022, with a planned closing event back in Nairobi.

This Campaign builds on the fact that electoral violence has been a major problem on the African continent and has had devastating effects with both human, financial and material consequences. Kenya is no exception to this sad record, with election-related violence which often take the form of inter-communal violence, violence between ethnic groups aligned with Kenya’s main political parties, and where hate speech remains the major fuel for ethnic divides, polarizing groups and communities and making them more hostile to each other, with increased risks of violence. This was particularly the situation witnessed in connection to the 2008 and 2017 elections, a situation which no one wants to see happening again.

Unfortunately, recent reports from the Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission already raises some alarm on visible premises that could lead to similar situation as in 2008 and 2017, outlined in the recently issues National Cohesion and Integration Commission Report titled “Towards a Violence-Free 2022 Election- Conflict Hotspot Mapping for Kenya” (2022) and which have listed 23 counties out of 47 that are considered potential violence hotspots ahead of the country’s August 2022 elections.

“Elections in Kenya have been marred with politically instigated violence dating back to 1960. The history of violence is so deeply entrenched, that every time the country approaches General Elections, it is gripped with fear of a possible repeat of electoral violence”, Report: Towards a Violence-Free 2022 Election- Conflict Hotspot Mapping for Kenya, National Cohesion and Integration Commission, 2022.

The above reality makes it even more relevant the launch of the Amani Torch Run 2022, an initiative of Special Olympics Kenya and its partners and the related nation-wide call and campaign for “Elections Bila Noma”, while ensuring a focus on vulnerable groups as the youth and persons with disabilities, more exposed to manipulations from politicians and to threats arising from electoral violence, with persons with intellectual disabilities even more at risk to be left behind.

 

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