“…We pray for a peaceful election, We pray for a peaceful Country…” – Sheikh Yusuf Abu Hamza, SUPKEM
The 2022 General Elections in Kenya were polarized by politics and debates, the challenging socio-economic inequalities which were worsened by COVID-19, climate-related crises, as well as a shifting regional landscape which threatened security and stability in various parts of the country. The country was faced with different pre-election scenarios and major key players were gearing up in their different capacities to address any potential risks and threats to peace.
Inter-Religious Council of Kenya also collaborated and partnered with various stakeholders including the UWIANO Platform for Peace members. Religious Leaders used different platforms to call for peace before, during and after the elections and adopted EWER mechanisms to address any potential risks on hot spots in the country as reported by NCIC and UN, which keenly monitored digital and social media platforms.
Before the elections, Religious Leaders participated in civic education forums, sensitized their members, and promoted peaceful elections through congregational platforms, community dialogues, broadcast media and social media. They conducted media advocacy and sharing of peace messages through national, local and vernacular stations. They collaboratively engaged in intra as well as inter-religious activities that ensured a stronger democracy would be achieved through voter participation and took up initiatives that urged their congregants to exercise their duty for enhanced democracy.
Religious Leaders also advocated for free, fair and credible elections and called upon their congregants to elect credible leaders and leaders of integrity. They developed, reviewed and disseminated the ‘Electing Leaders of Value’ booklet, which is a scriptural referenced booklet that faith leaders could use in different congregational platforms. These messages were articulated through different platforms example bulletins, sermons, leaflets, the media, or congregational platforms.
IRCK Panel of Eminent Women Leaders
‘Leave No One Behind Analysis and Peace and Conflict Assessment conducted by the UN (https://kenya.un.org/en/177315-lnob-report-leave-no-one-behind-peace-and-conflict-analysis-through-eyes-those-risk-being) found that women and youth are most at risk of being left behind, especially in regions historically marginalized and experiencing recurrent climate-induced conflict and gender-based violence. To be able to address this IRCK set up a Women Situation Room and trained women and youth observers to monitor and document gender-related issues.
The IRCK Women Situation Room was launched in July 2022 to guide and promote the participation of women in electoral processes and mitigate violence against women in elections among other Gender-based violent (GBV) related issues. IRCK Eminent Panel of Women Leaders and Women of Faith ran the situation room to constructively launch preventive measures ensuring that elections take place in an enabling environment and all-inclusive process. The women used their expertise in leadership to develop guidance on specific program activities for engagement with the leadership of political parties, flag bearers, violent disrupters, security agencies, relevant government institutions, the UN agencies, the national election commissions, and the media.
The Women Situation Room also was put up to help prevent and respond to political and electoral violence and emergencies before, during and after the election and provide a platform for women leaders to strategize, plan and respond rapidly to election-related gender-based violent issues in a coordinated manner.
National Peace and Mediation Team
Kenya’s capacity for internal mediation grew rapidly following the unfortunate events in 2007 and early 2008. The need for greater collaboration, coordination and synergy became evident, and after a series of consultations in collaboration with UN Kenya, Religious organizations, civil society organizations, and community elders nominated representatives to form one cohesive national team – The National Peace and Mediation Team (NPMT). Religious Leaders through the National Peace and Mediation Team were to reach out to political actors and key institutions to manage disputes peacefully and provide strategic guidance to promote justice and respect for human rights in a politically polarized environment. Before the election NPMT members held meetings in Nakuru and Lamu Counties, which were areas that had been marked as hot spots. The team held press briefings and did media engagements that kept the nation updated.
Religious Leaders at national and local levels continue to initiate, influence, promote, and support public policy to enhance the growth and development of their communities.