The ethicisation of the political space and non-acceptance of election results is causing deaths in the East African Community.
This concern was raised on Tuesday by officials including Peter Munya, who is Cabinet secretary of East African Community Affairs and Northern Corridor Development.
Intervention comes too late, they said, adding that by this time, “irreversible damages” have occurred.
They cited Kenya’s 2007-8 post-election violence, Burundi's civil war, DRC fighting, the South Sudan conflict as well as Zimbabwe's post election violence and disputes between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition.
Munya, the EAC Secretariat and professionals in conflict resolution are attending a four-day retreat in Mombasa on preventive diplomacy to avert loss of lives.
Also on their radar is the changing nature of conflict in the region. Armed intra-state conflicts, terrorism and violent extremism and conflicts related to the scarcity of resources have contributed to acrimony.
The theme of the meeting is 'Reflection on experiences, best practices and lessons learned from mediation, negotiation and dialogue processes'.
Leaders are afraid that religion might soon be used to drive the political agenda.
Munya noted that delayed intervention is a strategy for mitigating violence.
“Quick response can sometimes exacerbate situations. Sending armies to arrest a fragile situation is dangerous. A combination of different approaches is required,” he said on the sidelines of the retreat.
The responsibilities of political leaders came to the fore yesterday. President Uhuru and Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga were congratulated for averting a national disaster after two protracted elections last year.
“We have ultimately come to appreciate that our handshake is better, cheaper and more effective to implement than external prescriptions,” said Charles Njoroge, who is EAC Deputy Secretary General for Political Federation.
Munya also noted that conflicts have hampered sustainable peace and development.
"Such protracted conflicts place a huge strain on the peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building of African states and regional institutions,” he said.
He pointed out, however, that the EAC has been focusing on mediation, negotiation and dialogue in solving conflicts as witnessed in South Africa in 1992, DRC and Burundi in 2000, South Sudan in 2005, Kenya in 2007 and Zimbabwe in 2008.
Not all mediation have been successful - fighting has persisted in South Sudan and Somalia, a country that wants to join the Community.
“The failure of mediation is not necessarily indicative of the failure of the mediator but should, nonetheless, prompt us to reflect on the art and science of mediation, negotiation and dialogue,” the CS said.
He added that the nature of the conflict, the choice and acceptance of mediators, the credibility of these mediators, negotiators and dialogue facilitators determine the success of efforts to end wrangles.
“I implore you to become the ambassadors of peace in the region and beyond. With you I am confident that Africa is on the path of becoming a fountain of peace and tranquility,” he told those who attended the meeting.