The just concluded European Union (EU) Community of Practice on Peace Mediation 2022 Conference brought together Heads of Government and non-governmental institutions across the world to delve on a dialogue on building partnerships for sustainable peace.
The virtual event held on 26th and 27th October 2022 aimed at building a community of peace mediation practitioners who would engage with and for EU around the globe, bringing together active practitioners and partners to share experiences, learn lessons and drive forward key issues in peacebuilding through various recommendations.
Speaking at the conference where he was a panelist, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman, Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia delved on mediation in the electoral processes or crises in Kenya. The Chairperson gave insights on the root causes of conflicts and violence in Kenya, citing disputes of electoral results, tribal political mobilization and traditional land and border disputes as some of the issues causing violence and conflicts in Kenya.
The NCIC Chairman Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia during the EU Community of
Practice on Peace Mediation, 2022 virtual conference.
“We take mediation using the interest-based method, that is, we seek to reconcile the substantive, psychological and procedural interests of the parties rather than to determine who is right or more powerful,” said Dr. Kobia. He further identified negative ethnicity as a major cause of conflict. Constant dispute of electoral results where the candidates polarize the electorate along ethnic lines serves as a match stick that finally puts the nation on fire.
The NCIC Chairman also explained the preventive role the Commission plays in ensuring peaceful elections in Kenya especially in the just concluded 2022 General Elections, stating that NCIC had two approaches to ensure a violence-free election in the country. One was reactionary, dealing with violence as it happens while the second was proactive and created a mediation panel of eminent persons before the elections. This helped in ensuring any emerging conflict would be dealt with by an already constituted panel.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairperson, Mr. Wafula Chebukati addressed the challenges the body experienced during and after the August 2022 elections. He emphasized on the electoral process being embedded in mediation through capacity building and support by peace actors, not forgetting the importance of discretion of the electoral process for successful elections.
Mr. Chebukati urged international peace actors to assist electoral management bodies with tools to detect triggers that may lead to eruption of conflict during elections. “Mediation and prevention measures should follow an electoral process if not being part of the process,” said the IEBC Chairman.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati
Also in the panel at Brussels, was Vice President of the Strategic & Advisory Board for European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) Mr. Filiberto C. Sebregondi, who reiterated the words of Rev. Dr. Kobia, saying that the European Union lauds the work NCIC is doing in partnership with ECES. The Vice President added that ECES played a crucial role by working hand in hand with the Commission to ensure violence-free elections in Kenya.
“Closer coordination between electoral and mediation actors and supporters is necessary to fully exploit the infrastructure and the access these actors possess for effective conflict prevention,” said Mr. Sebregondi.
On partnering with organizations within Kenya, the panel recommended that the NCIC, National Police Service, IEBC and Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) should collaborate and work together with other peace actors to ensure the country has a violent-free electioneering period through monitoring of elections and encouraging community cohesiveness.
The key message from the panelists was that electoral processes and peace mediation are highly professionalized fields, where mediators and mediation support actors may need capacity building to better navigate the highly technical and complex electoral processes.
By: Ms. Phenny Akinyi