In early 2008, when violence erupted in Kenya after disputed elections, five respected individuals came together almost immediately to address the resulting political vacuum: an ambassador, two former generals and two civil society activists. All of them had substantial and varied expertise in peacebuilding.
This group formed the Core Group of « Concerned Citizens for Peace » (CCP). Their first public action was to establish an open forum where people could share experience and initiate actions. The forum took place regularly, several times a week. It was bringing together upwards of 100 individuals, CSOs, INGOs, politicians and civil servants, to help coordinate a response to the situation.
The forum was publicised through the media, including some of the mobile telephone networks. Five key social sectors were identified which needed early intervention: women, youth, interreligious groups, media and private sector. Specific individuals within each of these sectors joined the Core Group to form a Technical Committee to track activities, follow up on responses and ensure that communication was quick and effective within and across these sectors.
The Core Group were initially available every day at the hotel where the high level political talks were taking place. They engaged actively with international initiatives, both formal and informal. Critical information about what was happening, rumours that were circulating, and concerns of the people on the ground were channelled to the mediation team. Action was often taken to preempt particular activities in the country and prevent the cycle of violence from spiralling completely out of control.
As the political situation began to stabilise, the Core Group set out to establish similar groups with activists in each region of Kenya, where grievances remained strong. Their role was not only to defuse outbreaks of violence but also to uncover and begin to address the underlying conflict issues. They aimed to become an effective, country-wide peacebuilding structure for as long as needed. At the same time, they were, and are, keen to reflect on the whole process as it develops and learn actively from it.
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