tANZANIA Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa yesterday warned Kenyans that they risked putting their country to shame if they let tribal violence recur.
Mr Lowassa said the 2007 election violence, in which over 1,000 people were killed, ashamed Kenyans.
He was speaking at the live televised burial of Interior secretary Joseph Nkaissery in Kajiado.
His warning comes about three weeks before Kenyans go to the polls on August 8. Mr Lowassa, who attended the burial as the Maasai traditional leader (Laigwanani) eulogised Major General Nkaissery, who died of a heart attack, as a man of peace.
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Jubilee and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of National Super Alliance are major contenders for this year’s presidential election.
Lowassa said: “You [Kenyans] were in tribal clashes in the past. That put you to shame. I plead you not to revert to such a situation. I praise you for living harmoniously now. You’re united. Your country is beautiful. Your country is the most developed in East Africa. I envy you and I congratulate you.”
He urged Kenyans to maintain peace and tranquillity. “I have been watching Citizen Nipashe television channel, keenly following Kenyan issues. Although you blamed yourselves for past violence, it’s now time to look forward.”
The Tanzanian government was represented by Home Affairs minister Mwigulu Nchemba at the burial of Nkaissery. ‘Tanzania can’t be peaceful unless Kenya is peaceful. I worked with Nkaissery to ensure that our countries are safe,” he said.
He sent a message of condolence to the Kenyan government from President John Magufuli. President Kenyatta assured President Magufuli that Kenya would cooperate with Tanzania to facilitate trans-border business and keep peace.
He also urged Kenyans to emulate Nkaissery in maintaining peace. “As the General Election is approaching, let’s be peaceful, let’s preach peace, love one another, knowing that the election comes and goes but Kenya will remain,” he said. “Every person is free to campaign and to cast his or her vote wherever he or she is and thereafter we all go back to our places waiting for results so that Kenya should prosper.”
He urged politicians and their supporters to avoid violence on the polling day. “I beg my followers and those of Raila not to fight or insult one another in social media. Insults will not increase the number of votes.” The burial was also attended by Mr Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto, other dignitaries and many other people.