President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga led the delegates in declaring that the elections, slated for 4 March next year, will not only be peaceful but also different and that they will mark a turning point in the nation’s history.
Significantly, the conference was held on the day the country ratified the new Constitution two years ago.
The enactment of the Constitution was a watershed as it reorganised the country’s governance structure by dispersing powers from individuals and bestowing them on institutions, and also providing for involvement of the citizens in the nation’s life.
The national conference was a culmination of regional consultations through which communities entered into pacts for peaceful coexistence and national cohesion.
The experience of the 2007/8 mayhem demonstrated that we are poised on a cliff and that the slightest imbalance can be catastrophic. Nobody wants to see a repeat of that dark hour.
From a legal and policy point of view, many things have been done to redress the festering issues that gave rise to the turmoil.
But practical realities have also demonstrated that the law and policies are not enough. Currently, the country is under threat of insecurity.
Communities in Northern Kenya and large swathes of the Coast are literally at war with one another.
Thousands of people displaced during the 2007/8 violence are still trapped in temporary and hostile settlements.
Some critical elements of the Constitution like establishing an independent police force are pending.
The push for peace must, therefore, go hand in hand with structural and legal changes.