By Silas Isenjia
Nairobi, 27 May, 2022 / 9:38 pm (ACI Africa).
Catholic Bishops in Kenya have urged the people of God in the East African country to evaluate political candidates seeking to be elected in the August 9 general elections so that they can vote for pro-life leaders.
In their statement read out on Friday, May 27 during a press conference, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), besides election issues, reflected on the high cost of living, the drought situation in some regions of Kenya, and the National political discourse in the country.
During the press conference that came a day after the 19th National Prayer Breakfast, the Catholic Bishops urged Kenyans to choose leaders wisely and be guided by not only the manifestos of the aspirants but also their respective values as far as the issue of safeguarding life is concerned.
In their collective statement shared with ACI Africa, KCCB members say, “We are aware of some leaders and candidates who have shown indications of leaning towards ideologies that are destructive to our African values and cultures.”
“We are particularly concerned about those with pro-abortion tendencies as well as those who are actively involved in the sexualization of our young people. We appeal to Kenyans to shun from electing such persons in public offices,” they add.
Catholic Bishops in Kenya say that the choice of leaders should be based on the social concerns of that political aspirant and that the social concerns of anyone aspiring for political leadership should be to protect life and to also offer service to those entrusted to them.
The choice of a leader should be based on the ability of that person to “serve in the interest of the dignity and respect of our national values and have demonstrated to be leaders of integrity,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say in their collective statement signed by KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of the Archdiocese of Mombasa and 24 other members of the Conference.
To express their support for the forthcoming elections, the Catholic Bishops have called upon Kenyans to verify their voter registration details and turn out to vote on August 9.
They urge Kenyans to assess aspirants carefully and choose leaders with moral standards and also with clear visionary plans of action. The Catholic Bishops equally urge Kenyans to shun incitement to violence before, during, and after elections.
“As a Church, we are committed to playing our part in ensuring a peaceful and credible electioneering process by way of prayer and civic education across the country through our Catholic Justice and Peace Departments,” KCCB members say in their May 27 statement shared with ACI Africa.
They add, “We call on all actors and people of goodwill to join us in supporting the cause for peace ahead of the August General Elections.”
Catholic Bishops in Kenya call upon the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to earn trust from the people by demonstrating their preparedness toward conducting free, fair, credible, and verifiable August 9 elections.
They urged the institutions and those involved in one way or another with any responsibility towards the August 9 general elections including the police and the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) among others to be well prepared, transparent, and act within the law.
“We call on all the institutions cited above to deal firmly with candidates who are engaging in voter bribery, inciting the people, spewing hate speech, and conducting violent campaigns, including barring them from running for office in accordance with Chapter Six of the Constitution,” KCCB members say.
They add, “We plead with our leaders and the voters to ensure the forthcoming General Elections are violence-free and issue-based.”
“We also call upon all actors to handle electoral and judicial institutions honorably, with integrity and honesty, dispensing true justice, and avoid bringing them into disrepute,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say in their collective statement in which they also “call upon State Officers to desist from engaging in political activities as is required of them in Article 75 of the Constitution of Kenya.”
They highlight some of the misdeeds in the previous elections including the late arrival of electoral materials, the burning of ballot papers by disgruntled supporters of candidates, and say that such actions “are all shadows of the way corruption can play out in the General Elections.”
They urge candidates for various political positions to refrain from electoral fraud and contestants to avoid uttering statements that could lead to ethnic hatred and violence.
“Getting into public office is not an opportunity for leaders to enrich themselves or trample on the people’s rights,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, and add, “Rather, it should be a challenge to all leaders to render services to the people.”
Highlighting the inability to accept election results as one of the major issues that lead to violence, KCCB members call upon all the political aspirants to express readiness to accept the election results.
“We call upon all Kenyans that we must demand that all aspirants accept the results of the forthcoming General Elections or seek redress in the courts if aggrieved,” they say, and emphasize, “We insist that all disputes and grievances must be addressed through the judicial system in the country.”
In their collective statement, Catholic Bishops in Kenya speak about insecurity and ethnic conflicts in some parts of the East African country and say that such cases are normally fueled by drought and politics.
They laud the interventions of the government in some of the regions in an effort to restore peace and say that the government is still needed to do more to find lasting solutions to what they refer to as perennial conflicts that normally lead to loss of lives.
They say, “A multi-pronged approach towards ending the conflicts should be considered. Apart from mopping up illegal guns, a new long-term strategy that seeks to wean the people from overdependence on a livestock economy must be put in place.”
“We call on the security agencies to stop the current tendency of reacting when lives are already lost and engaging in blame games in matters of the security of Kenyans,” Catholic Bishops say in their May 27 statement shared with ACI Africa.
The Catholic Bishops’ statement also includes reflections on the rising cost of living in the country. They regret the fact that the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities is becoming unaffordable to most families.
The majority of Kenyans are suffering as most of them are still living below the poverty line beside the fact that they are still recovering from lost livelihoods due to the effects of COVID 19, KCCB members say.
“We call on the Government to make a deliberate policy intervention to cushion Kenyans by way of reduced taxes on basic commodities until such a time that the economy will have improved,” they say.
The Catholic Bishops add, “The high cost of fuel continues to be a concern because it has a ripple effect on the prices of essential commodities.”
On international debt, KCCB members say, “We urge the Government to come out in a more transparent manner to address the issue of International debt.”
“Let the Government open up space for candid discussions around this matter so that the nation can find lasting solutions to this problem which is now threatening the economy of this country,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say in their May 27 collective message shared with ACI Africa.
SOURCE ACI AFRICA. Published with permission.