Kenyans prepare for peaceful polls

By Maggie Lee,

ATLANTA, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Kenya next year will avoid the ethnic violence that tore the country apart during the 2007 elections, say three men tackling the problem.

“The system has been turned upside down” since 2007, Alfred Khangati, minister in the office of the president of Kenya in charge of internal security, said at a peacebuilders' convention last week in Atlanta.


“In 2010 the new constitution provided for reforms in a number of sectors."

More than 1,200 people died in 2007 and 2008 in election-related violence. The United Nations found the mayhem was fueled by pre-existing land disputes, ethnic tensions and other economic and social ills.

Kenya learned from those mistakes and a poorly run poll, Khangati said, adding that the violence “brought our economy to its knees.”

The new constitution put in place a commission to settle land claims and a new and independent election commission, among other reforms.

“Politicians took advantage of young people, they came and mobilized young people who are basically unemployed and have nothing to do … Young people threw the stones”, said Daniel Juma Omondi, chief executive officer of Nairobi's Global Peace Youth Corps Kenya Center.


His organization’s Rift Valley Peace Initiative works to draw young people in the region into organizations and programs that teach reconciliation and conflict management.

“We’ve been going around the country educating young people,” Omondi said. “The people must learn to accept that you can have another tribe lead.”

The country is home to dozens of large and small tribes.

Kenya has spent millions of dollars on measures meant keep the next ballot credible. Voters will have registered via an electronic system and they will walk away from the polls with an ink-stained finger that should bar them from returning to vote multiple times.

Manilal Chandaria, chairman and CEO of the Comcraft Group, one of Kenya’s wealthiest businessmen and busiest philanthropists works with Omandi’s foundation and its parent.

“The best way to reform mankind is through education of the children,” Chandaria said.

All three were among the more than 300 people who attended the 2012 Global Peace Convention, annually organized by GPYC’s parent, the Global Peace Foundation.

Foundation Chairman Preston Moon is chairman of the board of the ultimate holding company that owns United Press International.

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