Peace and Security

Working for Reconciliation and Forgiveness

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With the urgent search for peace and desire to see the implementation of the February 28 peace accord, leaders of civil society, religious groups, and diplomatic missions in Kenya have undertaken major lobbying efforts in hopes that it will regain its dominant economic status and once again be a landmark haven for peace in the region.

In support of these peacebuilding efforts, the Universal Peace Federation is sponsoring leadership conferences. It organized a ten-day leadership seminar for retired and former men and women of the armed forces under the name Kenya Veterans for Peace and Unity in Kenya. This educational forum took place at UPF’s Peace Embassy in Nairobi March 3-14. They received education about peace, good governance, good character, and HIV/AIDS prevention. More than 300 people gathered for the closing ceremony, at which the Nairobi Provincial Commissioner was represented. They all praised the role that UPF undertook to educate people to be peacemakers. Through the Provincial Commissioner, they also asked the government to consider including UPF in future peace forums.

A March 18 International Leadership Conference in Nairobi will include a keynote address by Martin Luther King III. The Speaker of the Parliament asked five members of parliament representing all parts of Kenya to attend the International Leadership Conference scheduled to be held in Korea.

Kenya has 42 ethnic groups and over 42 local dialects. The diverse tribes have coexisted and thrived in the country for many years. In her four decades of independence since 1963, Kenya had never experienced the kind of turmoil that befell the nation at the beginning of this year, after the announcement of the results of the disputed general election. The tribal diversity that had united the nation became the source of distrust, hate, and ravage; neighbors and friends turned against each other and looked on people of opposing tribes as their enemies, depending on their perceived political alignment. Basically there was a mass migration, with everyone seeking to relocate to their ancestral hometowns. Those who could not make it out of the so-called enemy areas were brutalized, murdered, or on one occasion, torched alive.

Kenya exerts great influence in East Africa: it brokered a peace deal in 2005 between the Sudanese government and the Christian south and brought together the warring factions in Somalia. It hosted them in Kenya for many years and finally in 2004 struck a deal that brought an end to the war that the warlords had been waging since the overthrow of President Said Barre in the early 1990s. The transitional federal government was set up in Kenya. Kenya has also played a major role in the integration of the region through the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) regional trading blocs.

The search for peace in Kenya has totally changed the environment in the nation. There are many new, young members of parliament who are focusing their energies on bringing change.

UPF Ambassadors for Peace held a candlelight peace vigil on February 6 in the heart of Nairobi, at Uhuru Park. Political leaders and religious leaders, all of them UPF Ambassadors for Peace, came together to remind the nation of the need to reflect and pray for peace in the nation. They also took a moment to remember those who were bereaved and the displaced.

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