The Post-Election Violence (PEV) was a watershed moment for the country. It represented the worst breakdown ever of democratic and constitutional governance in Kenya. Women and children were extensively affected. The youth were used as perpetrators of violence and it confirmed the democratic fragility of the country following a cyclical trend of democratic progress and reversal in the era of multi-party Kenya. Distressingly, there is ever-present danger of the country spiralling into further violence.
On the flip side, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (COK 2010) provides an opportunity for the regeneration and renewal of an integrated and cohesive Kenyan society. Free and fair electoral institutions, mechanisms and processes must be put in place to guarantee the credibility of the electoral processes and legitimacy of the government that will be elected in 2012.
Challenges related to the political and electoral boundaries, the structure of devolved governments, regional and inter-ethnic mistrust and the highly emotive proceedings at the International Criminal Court (ICC) threaten peace and security. The devolved governments are created by the Constitution in an effort to bring decision making closer to the people but are likely to exacerbate marginalization and exclusion of citizens if not properly executed. Similarly, the ICC process while intended to end impunity and punish individuals alleged to bear greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity during the post-election violence, is likely to be read as selective and politically driven. It could be used to increase mistrust and tensions.
Undoubtedly, the youth, if properly mobilized, can generate sustainable democratic governance, and promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence among Kenyan communities. However, they are abysmally mismanaged and a key in the perpetuation of crime, creating insecurity and fomenting unrest. Ahead of the general elections in 2012, there is need for concrete actions to address the challenges faced by Kenyan youth to reduce their vulnerability to manipulation by politicians. This calls for the creation of a platform for positive transformation of youth by encouraging the youth to harness new strategies, tools and platforms to promote national values, fusion of culture and national identity.
In addition, because the Constitution embraces the principles of affirmative action, and non-discrimination, there is need to proactively create a platform to involve the women in enhancing their participation in leadership and voting and also in bringing about reconciliation, national healing, peace, cohesion and integration in the country.
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