Sunday, 24 February 2013

Joining hands for peace

By DAVE OPIYO  ( email the author)

Presidential candidates were on Sunday united in calling for a peaceful election and vowed that the country will never again witness a repeat of the violence that occurred after the 2007 poll.
A meeting that had been convened at Uhuru Park by charismatic preacher David Owuor to pray for peaceful elections also saw two of the country’s biggest political rivals, Cord flag bearer Raila Odinga and Jubilee running mate William Ruto reconcile.
The two have openly differed on various issues including the eviction of those who had settled in the Mau water catchment area and how the Prime Minister had handled the International Criminal Court (ICC) matter.
But on Sunday, the PM said the two met last year and agreed to bury the hatchet, revelations that were confirmed by Mr Ruto.
“I can confirm what the PM has said. We have indeed forgiven each other,” said Mr Ruto amid applause from the thousands of people who had attended the prayer meeting. “We have also forgiven all those who have wronged us and equally ask for forgiveness to all we have wronged.”
Mr Odinga also said he had repented all the sins he may have committed and said his wish was to see the March 4 election held in a peaceful manner.
“This is a great day for Kenya. We left Egypt more than 50 years ago and have been wandering in the desert since. We have now reached the shores of Canaan,” he said.
The country’s leadership has been under pressure from the international community to ensure that Kenya does not witness a repeat of the 2007 violence that led to the deaths of 1,133 people and led to the displacement of over 350,000 others.
Also present at the event was the Jubilee Coalition’s presidential candidate, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Ms Martha Karua, the Narc Kenya flag bearer, Mr Peter Kenneth of the Eagle Coalition and Mr Mohammed Dida of the Alliance for Real Change.
Conspicuously absent was Amani Coalition’s presidential candidate Musalia Mudavadi and Safina’s Paul Muite.
Mr Mudavadi was at a Catholic church service in Voi while Mr Muite sent his running mate, Shem Ochuodho, to represent him.
Mr Odinga also sent apologies on behalf of his running mate, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, who was attending a Jesus Celebration Centre service in Bamburi, Mombasa.
The leaders later held hands and embraced before the thousands of people who attended the prayer meeting.
Mr Kenyatta said the violence that almost took the country to the brink in 2007/08 was a thing of the past.
“I, Uhuru Kenyatta, swear that we shall maintain peace in our campaigns. We shall also tell our supporters across the country to do so since Kenya is bigger than any of us,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta said the race for the country’s leadership should not create enmity between the candidates and promised that he would be the first to congratulate the winner if he himself loses.
Ms Karua and Prof Kiyiapi also made a pledge to preach peace.
“I am feeling humbled standing before all Kenyans and assuring them that we shall play our part in ensuring that these elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. To all my supporters, please do the same,” said Ms Karua.
And Prof Kiyiapi said: “I join my other colleagues in also promising that we shall play our role in ensuring peaceful elections.”
Mr Kenneth said that since all the candidates, including himself, had made the pledge, Kenyans should now ensure that the leaders delivered on it.
“We have to be held accountable for all our pledges,” said Mr Kenneth while asking his competitors to ensure that whatever they say between now and the elections day promotes peace.
“We must never again allow a repeat of what occurred in 2007. After March 4, the real winner should be Kenyans.”
Mr Dida said it is only through peace that the country will prosper.
He said for those asking to be forgiven for the wrongs they might have committed must first own up and if they had illegally taken anyone’s property, it must be returned.
Dr Owuor said following the move by the leaders to preach peace, Kenya had been reborn.
“Today is a special day for the country. Kenya is now born again. It will now have peace…Kenyans will now have peaceful elections.”

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