As the election fever rises in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga have taken drastic measures to contain their troops and lock out aspirants who engage in violence.
Raila said he was ready to invoke his powers as Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader to punish aspirants who engage in violence in their campaigns.
The ODM leader instructed the party’s National Elections Board (NEB) headed by Judith Pareno to deal firmly with male aspirants using violence to intimidate their female counterparts in the race for the party’s ticket.
Speaking at the ODM Women League and aspirants meeting at Multimedia University Hall, Raila said the party would not tolerate cases of men harassing and intimidating women opponents in the party primaries that begin next week.
“Our policy of zero tolerance for all forms of political violence, especially violence against women aspirants, candidates, and party activists must come alive in the nominations that begin next month,” said Raila.
At the same time, Jubilee Party, which is headed by Uhuru, yesterday announced that it had summoned politicians who have been involved in violence to appear before its disciplinary committee today.
Those summoned include Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko, MP David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Kirinyaga Governor Joseph Ndathi, and his competitor, former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru.
“We are reviewing video footage and newspaper stories so that we have water-tight evidence to charge those found culpable,” said Jubilee’s head of communications, Albert Memusi.
He added: “The disciplinary committee is meeting today (yesterday) to review the matter and summon the affected politicians to come here tomorrow (today).”
The committee, which was formed last Friday, will punish those involved in chaos or planning violence in Jubilee events.
The party’s secretary-general and head of secretariat, Raphael Tuju, said the committee was mandated to ensure aspirants involved in indiscipline cases are blocked from vying.
“We have agreed with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), and other law-enforcing agencies that those disqualified for violence will not be allowed to join other political parties,” said Mr Tuju.
In the recent past, chaos has marred Jubilee functions, including during the picking of county election boards. Chaotic scenes have been witnessed in Nairobi, Nakuru, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Murang’a, and Kajiado.
In Nakuru, the meeting was halted after MP David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East) was involved in a fist-fight with his rival’s supporters.
At Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, the election of county officials failed when the supporters of Sonko and his rival, Peter Kenneth, clashed over what each group said was skewed to favour their rivals.
In Kirinyaga, chaotic scenes forced the event to be halted when participants hurled chairs at one another and tore election materials.
The party has also formed a tribunal to resolve disputes arising from the election of interim county officials.
Tuju said the Dispute Resolution Committee, which is independent of the secretariat, would interrogate complaints from counties.
He said the committee would make a decision on whether there would be a repeat of the recruitment exercise in the affected areas.
The secretary-general also announced that aspirants who intimidate party staff would be disciplined and not allowed to enter the headquarters premises with their supporters.
Raila said Kenya has come of age and that it was high time political parties embraced the culture of tolerance towards women and encouraged them to go for elective positions to achieve the two-third gender requirement in leadership.
IEBC Commissioner Roselyne Kwamboka has confirmed that the commission would bar from the ballot candidates implicated in violence.
“We are partnering with various political parties to weed out rogue candidates. Violence is a criminal offence under our political laws. We will discipline any candidate who breaks the law,” said Ms Kwamboka.
She added that the commission was helping political parties to build capacity to conduct credible nominations.
Nairobi, too, has been rocked by campaign-related violence that has seen three people killed in two weeks.
Ruaraka appears to be the epicentre where two people have died in two separate incidents after two rival ODM camps clashed while another man was beaten to death in Starehe after he allegedly grabbed money shortly after a rally by musician and aspirant Charles Kanyi, alias Jaguar.
By Protus Onyango