BY CORRESPONDENT,NAIROBI,25TH JUNE,2022-Students from 75 Public and Private Universities and Colleges have launched a nationwide Peace Sensitization Campaign targeting their fellow youth ahead of the elections on August 9th, 2022. The ‘47 Days of Peace Campaign’ by the University and Colleges Students Peace Association of Kenya (UCSPAK), was launched on Friday June, 24, 2022 at the University of Nairobi, by Amb. Simon Nabukwesi CBS, Permanent Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research.

The event brought together key election stakeholders among them the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Mkenya Daima Initiative as well as various University Vice-Chancellors and Deans of Students under the Kenya University Dean of Student Association (KUDSA). Making his remarks, Amb. Nabukwesi, CBS called on the IEBC and the NCIC to create a name and shame accountability database of wayward politicians for Kenyans to judge them objectively and to show the youth that there are consequences to hate speech and other election malpractices. “We need to continuously empower our election management bodies such as the IEBC, NCIC and the others and give them arresting and even prosecutorial powers to bring order in our political arena. If this was instituted, then perhaps politicians and all of us would take seriously our obligations in contributing to peace and cohesion”, he said.

UCSPAK Founder and Executive Director Mr. Allan Chacha, said the 47 Days of Peace campaign would seek to build solidarity among young people on election matters with a view to encouraging young people to come out and vote in the 47 days remaining to the election. The PS announced that UCSPAK that also incorporates Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutions (TVETs) has signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the IEBC to undertake voter education training in universities and colleges. UCSPAK is also working with the NCIC to lead peace activities and to enhance electoral knowledge in institutions of higher learning.

A pool of campus voter education Trainer of Trainers (TOTs) has also been created in 48 universities and colleges with more student leaders expected to receive the training. “UCSPAK welcomes this overwhelming multi-stakeholder support that we have received from our partners, and we now take the challenge to spread the message of leadership, peace, and responsible electoral participation to our fellow students and Kenyan Youth across the country”, said Chacha.

CEO, NCIC, Dr. Skitter Ocharo, said NCIC considers youths as extra-ordinary people who creatively look for ways to prevent violence and consolidate peace, reason why it has incorporated youth in all programmatic work, initiatives, and campaigns. “Society requires ropes around the wrestling ring that is the political arena, to confine the shenanigans to where it belongs. The national peace infrastructure is those ropes. I want to urge the youths to stop being used and or misused by the political class to engage in activities that could only result in violence and polarization of the nation. My call to the youth is to reject misinformation, disinformation, fake news, and hate speech”, she said.

During the 47 days of the Peace Campaign, UCSPAK will also seek to lobby aspirants at both the county and national levels to sign a commitment not to use young people to cause conflict during and after their campaigns. Calling on the University students to join the rallying call ‘Nitatenda wajibu wangu’, Dr. Vimal Shah, Chairman Mkenya Daima Initiative, also the Chancellor of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, encouraged young people to stand up for accountability and to start taking ownership of the electoral process through positive participation in elections. “Voting is an all-important and empowering democratic process that enables us to exercise our right to elect men, and women who will determine the country’s socio-economic future, but it also comes with the responsibility to choose good leaders at every level.”, said Vimal.

Through the 47 Days of Peace Campaign, Mkenya Daima 2022 will work with UCSPAK to engage with new and lapsed voters between the ages of 18 and 34 years on diverse topics around peaceful electioneering and responsible voting across the 47 counties ahead of the elections. Prof. Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha, Chairperson, UCSPAK Advisory Board & the Chairman Commission for University Education said that being an academic of many years’ standing, it was gratifying to see young people vibrant to take part in elections, driven to promote peace and cohesion. “With peace, we can grow our economy and our education, but it is true that we have had some challenges necessitated by the routine processes that democracies around the world go through. All of you students being representatives of thousands of other students, we hope that your commitment will remain the basis on which you will engage in this process of campaigning for peace and tolerance in these coming elections,” said Prof. Chacha.

On his part, Stephen Jackson, the Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Kenya said although the youth have been excluded before, waiting to be leaders of tomorrow, this was now changing with the world, and Kenya, now waking up to the youth’s agency and drive for freedom, peace, and change. “Young people can feel frustrated and become susceptible to manipulation, but most of the youth are peaceful and productive; only a handful engage in violence. Realizing that you have skin in the game is what ensures your thirst for change remains positive rather than destructive and this is what we must work on together”, he said. Rasi Masudi, Director of Voter Education, and partnerships, at IEBC, said the institution’s long experience in election management has created a large body of knowledge and technical competencies that informs the operation of the 2022 general elections. “Management of the election process is an accumulation of 5 years of planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of various activities.

IEBC is tapping into this experience and is on course in preparation for an elaborate and comprehensive framework for the forthcoming general elections”, said Masudi. According to UCSPAK, IEBC has accredited the trained campus voter educators to participate as election peace observers. The students will also help monitor and provide early warning information and updates in institutions of higher learning.



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