Regional human rights activists have vowed to advocate for peaceful elections in all East African countries, following post-election hostilities that have rocked some of them in the recent past.
This was agreed upon yesterday in a two-day conference in Kigali, that brought together various stakeholders, including the National Human Rights Commissions (NHRC) and other rights institutions together with civil society organisations from all East African countries.
Presenters revealed that normally people tend to ignore early warning signs of tensions prior to elections, which normally end up in bloodshed after the polls, citing an example of last year’s post-election violence in Kenya.
“We could see signs, including hate speeches, ideological messages from the media, but nothing was done and the result was what you saw in early 2008,”said the chairperson of Kenyan National Commission for Human Rights, Florence Simbili, in her presentation.
Over a thousand people lost their lives while hundreds of thousands were displaced in the violence that raged for over a month.
Speaking to The New Times, the president of the NHRC, Zainabo Sylvie Kayitesi said: “The overall objective of the meeting is to share ideas on promoting human rights in the region by sharing experiences and discussing challenges facing our institutions to draw collective recommendations.”
To ensure a peaceful retention and transfer of power, participants agreed on a campaign of sensitizing citizens on democracy and good governance to educate them against possible political manipulations.
Participants were also expected to discuss economic and social rights, peace and conflict management and the impact of unity and reconciliation on Human Rights.