BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,5TH JULY 2022-Social media users found discrediting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of the August polls risk being fined or sentenced to jail if found guilty.
UWIANO Platform for Peace that brings together state and non-state organizations has committed to unmask the individuals who will be found running a smear campaign on the electoral body.
“Individuals running accounts that participate in campaigns aimed at discrediting institutions such as the IEBC, using disinformation and propaganda to be identified and prosecuted,” the platforms Principal and Chairperson of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission Samuel Kobia said.
The platform noted that the sustained smear campaign against IEBC on social media is “is one of the road blocks to peace as they lead to apathetic citizens who are more likely to be incited to violence”.
“This method aims to project the IEBC as incompetent, thus sowing doubt in citizens’ perception on the ability of the IEBC to deliver credible results they can believe in,” Kobia said.
The peace crusaders observed that cases of discrediting the electoral commission are bound to rise as compared to what was witnessed in the previous election in 2013 and 2017 if nothing is done to tame the campaign activities.
“The campaign to discredit the IEBC was well coordinated on Twitter, with evidence of artificial amplification of this message using manipulated/ photo shopped images and bot account,” Kobia said.
Kenyans who feel their peace is at risk ahead of the polls have in the meantime been encouraged to report such situations by sending a text to 108 and 1547.
With 34 days to go before Kenyans cast their vote at the ballot in the high-stake polls, Kobia revealed that they have witnessed pockets of heightened tension in the country.
He pointed out that the tension has been fuelled by “hate speech and ethnic contempt with politicians inflaming ethnic passions through public statements and social media posts have been on the rise”.
The platform decried that the social media is the most used tool that is triggering the unnecessary tension in the country.
In the month of June, the platform flagged 31 cases of hate speech in social media.
“As peace actors under the Uwiano Platform, we are concerned by the increasing number of hate speech cases in the social media platforms with chaotic rallies being a trigger for incitement on social media,” Kobia said.
In the period under review, Twitter was identified to be the main platform for hate speech.
In the Twitter platform, UWIANO raised concerns on the sustained campaign by a section of Kenyans to discredit the credibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
“Individuals running accounts that participate in campaigns aimed at discrediting institutions such as the IEBC, using disinformation and propaganda to be identified and prosecuted,” Kobia said.
Uwiano membership is comprised of the National Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict Management (NSC) (co-chair), NCIC (co-chair), Peace and Development Network Trust (PeaceNet), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), IEBC,
Other members include: National Police Service (NPS), Office Of The Registrar Of Political Parties (ORPP), Council of Governors (CoG), Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Media Council of Kenya (MCK), Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women.