NAIROBI, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's cohesion body on Wednesday urged the country's top political leaders to promote peace in their utterances even as the country awaits for the ruling of the Supreme Court on the validity of the presidential results.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia told journalists in Nairobi that President elect Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Raila Odinga should tone down their political rhetoric and await for the petition in court.
"Considering that the polls were hotly contested, we are therefore urging for the leaders to be seen to advocate for national cohesion as the divisions brought about by the just concluded polls are still present," he said.
Kibunjia added that the two front runners each garnered a substantial number of votes and appealed to all Kenyans to maintain the peace as they did prior and during the elections.
"In reality the country is currently split between those who supported the president elect and are satisfied with the electoral process and those who supported the prime minister feel aggrieved by the polls outcome," the chairman added.
He observed that elections in Kenya are often very emotive. "The mobilization for support during the just concluded elections only helped to emphasize the ethnic divisions present in the country," he said.
"The country must therefore remain alive to the fact that these emotions are still present and are an easy prey to manipulation. The NCIC is proposing that as soon as the election process is finalized, the country embarks on an exercise of integrating both sides of the political divide," Kibunjia said.
He commended Kenyans for maintaining calm from the period of the election campaigns to the moment the results were announced.
"Now that the country is waiting for the Supreme Court to determine the disputes on the presidential polls, we are asking Kenyans to remain peaceful," he said.
The NCIC chairman said that Kenya's new constitutional dispensation intends to build a government of laws where laws are implemented by institutions.
"The commission therefore urges all Kenyans to respect the institutions that have been created and allow the legal process to address any shortcomings that we may have with them," he said.
He noted that since the commission was formed a few years back, it has focused on reducing the threat that general elections constantly pose to national unity.
Kibunjia noted that the fact that Kenyans did not want to return to the situation witnessed after the 2007 polls has helped reduce political tensions.
"The joint collaboration contributed to the tranquility we are enjoying currently," he said. Kibunjia added that following sustained campaigns, national unity become a national obsession.
The NCIC also decried the discussions in the social media that have intensified Kenya's ethnic disharmony.
"Unfortunately as the commission has managed to reduce incitement in public rallies and music, perpetrators of hate speech have moved to the social media," he said.
He said that freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution but Kenyan should not cross the line. "Those using the social media should understand the laws relating to incitement and freedom of speech," he said.
He added that the commission is currently putting together evidence against four individuals who are suspected of using the internet to spread hate messages.
"This as an example of how the country's social values are declining," he said. He noted that most of the sites are hosted outside of the country and this poses a serious challenge to law enforcement efforts, adding that the monitoring regime for hate speech has not stopped.