Kenyan church leaders plead again for responsible leadership in their country

(Photo: NCCK)National Council of Churches of Kenya Program Committee

Peace in Kenya has been on a knife edge in recent weeks with the threat of violence hanging by a thin thread, as the country's church leaders stay on script in their task as peacemakers and rift healers, constantly calling for calm.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya on 4 October had released a detailed document calling "on all Kenyans to continue praying for our nation and commit to nurture peace and strengthening of our institutions".

In their statement the churches pinpoint key directions the country could move in to do this.

"Let us especially pray that the political formations will drop their hardline positions and engage the electoral process with a mind of achieving what is best for the nation, not just for themselves as individuals.," they said.

The Kenyan church leaders are proposing a national dialogue conference to help find ways of the resolving the current political and social crises facing the East African nation.

Apart from discussing the stand-off over fresh presidential elections, it would also help resolve a longstanding nurses and clinical officers' strike.

The drama accelerated on 18 October when one of Kenya's seven election commissioners Roselyn Akombe quit releasing a statement in New York accusing her colleagues of political bias and saying an upcoming presidential election cannot be credible, the AFP news agency reported.

Kenya's crisis had moved up a notch on 1 September when the Supreme Court nullified the election victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta due to irregularities and illegalities.

Although a new election is scheduled for 26 October, the opposition says it will boycott it because it does not believe the independent electoral commission will allow it to be free and fair.

Both sides are open to scrutiny in their claims to be the peaceful ones, say church leaders.

The country's Roman Catholic bishops had added their voices to earlier pleas from the NCCK urging Kenyans to guard the national peace.

"If the election goes on as scheduled, we call upon Kenyans to turn out and exercise their democratic right peacefully," the bishops said in an Oct. 12 statement signed by Bishop Philip Anyolo, chair of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops' Conference, Catholic News Service reported.

"If for any reason the election is rescheduled, we call on Kenyans to remain calm and peaceful."

In their earlier statement, on 4 October the NCCK said, "We note that since the Supreme Court ruling, the political class has put the country on an edge by their constant grandstanding over issues that would otherwise be resolved through genuine engagement."

The NCCK includes 28 Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant churches in the country and is part of the World Council of Churches. Its statement was signed by Archbishop Mophat Kilioba, chairperson of the NCCK's Programme Committee and its general secretary, Rev. Canon Peter Karanja.

"The result has been violent demonstrations in which one death has already been reported, and there are indications of mobilization of gangs for violence in different parts of the country," said the NCCK after its programmme committee met.


NCCK said, "The economy is on a downward spiral, and the health sector continues to be bedeviled by industrial action by nurses and medical staff. This state of affairs must not be allowed to fester any longer."

They called on the top leadership of Kenyatta's Jubilee Party and the National Super Alliance, the two main political parties, to drop their hardline positions regarding the management of fresh presidential elections to and seek what is best for the people of Kenya.

"Failure to hold the Fresh Presidential Elections within the timelines set by the Constitution in line with the Supreme Court ruling, will take this country into a scenario fraught with danger and uncertainty.

"It will be greatly irresponsible for NASA and Jubilee to push Kenya to that scenario which is tragic for the country whatever benefit any political actors may get from it."

The churches urged the political parties to work to expanding the national executive of government by creating new positions to enable greater inclusivity and create wider ownership of government by Kenyan communities

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