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Bishops’ Message

A CALL FOR PEACEFUL, TRANSPARENT AND CREDIBLE ELECTIONS

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

PREAMBLE

We the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, meeting at the Donum Dei Spirituality Centre, Karen, convey our Easter Greetings to all Kenyans, in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Peace be with you!

During our last Plenary Assembly meeting at the Marian National Shrine in Subukia, we took stock and reflected deeply on the State of our Nation, particularly the drought situation in some regions of the country, the high cost of living, the forthcoming general elections and national political discourse, among others. We therefore wish to state the following:

  1. Preparedness of the Nation for the August 2022 General Elections

The country will be holding its third General Elections under the 2010 Constitution on 9th August 2022. In these elections, we are going to have a transition in the Office of the President of the Republic while a number of County Governors will be exiting as their constitutional two-term limit takes effect.

There is a lot at stake in these coming elections as leaders mobilize to fill the vacant leadership positions. As we have observed in the past, elections in this country invoke a lot of tension, intolerance, and ethnic mobilization.

We urge all Kenyans to choose their leaders wisely and be guided by the values and manifestos of the various candidates. In this regard, 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 sexualisation of our young people. We appeal to Kenyans to shun from electing such persons in public offices. It is paramount that our choice of leaders should focus on those who have social concern, are pro-life and will serve in the interest of the dignity and respect of our national values and have demonstrated to be leaders of integrity. To this end, we urge the Kenyans to:

  1. a) Verify their voter registration details through the available means put in place by IEBC and come out to vote.
  2. b) Carefully assess the persons aspiring to be elected to different positions. Kenyans should purpose to vote for persons who have high moral standards and have clear visionary plans of action or manifestos.
  3. c) Refuse to be incited to engage in violence or any other acts of lawlessness before, during and/or 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. We call on all actors and people of good will to join us in supporting the cause for peace ahead of the August General Elections.

  1. Enhancing Trust in Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Other Electoral Institutions

Electoral Institutions are critical in any electioneering process. It is therefore important that the IEBC gains the trust of Kenyans by demonstrating its preparedness and capacity to deliver free, fair, credible and verifiable General Elections in August this year. We are willing to accompany IEBC to achieve.

We also recommend that all persons and institutions charged with responsibilities that touch on elections such as the IEBC, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP), the police, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), political parties and the candidates, should 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. 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 honourably, with integrity and honesty, dispensing true justice, and avoid bringing them into disrepute. Further to this, we call upon State Officers to desist from engaging in political activities as is required of them in Article 75 of the Constitution of Kenya.

  1. Increased Political Violence and Intolerance

As the countdown to the August General Elections begins, we are deeply concerned about how political parties conducted their primaries. There were numerous claims of voter bribery, intimidation of voters and candidates, pre-marked ballot papers in favour of some candidates, late arrival of electoral materials, missing names in the party registers and rowdy crowds witnessed in some polling centres protesting that their preferred candidates had been short-changed. In some areas, ballot papers were burned by angry supporters delaying the nomination exercise for hours. These are all shadows of the way corruption can play out in the General Elections.

We warn that the political trends so far observed are generating fear among Kenyans that unless drastic measures are taken and a new electoral strategy that controls the conduct and behaviour of politicians and the electorate is enforced, there is real danger of the country descending into chaos and violence in the run-up to the 2022 General Elections.

We continue to call on all political leaders to conduct themselves with civility and avoid engaging in any acts of electoral fraud. We also urge all contestants to show mutual respect, exercise restraint and avoid insults and inflammatory statements that could stir ethnic hatred and violence. We remind our leaders that political competition should never stoke ethnic hatred or grant political opponents opportunity to settle scores through violent confrontations and threats.

It is unfortunate that the nature of politics in Kenya tends to generate violence and conflict every election year. We should not burn our country because of electoral competition. Our leaders should know that elections come and go but our Nation will remain long after all of us are gone. We must protect it for the current and future generations.

As a country, we need to cultivate a culture where we see elections as a moment to provide the nation with visionary leaders – men and women who will guide the people towards peaceful coexistence and provide them with opportunities for legitimate social and economic transformation. Getting into public office is not an opportunity for leaders to enrich themselves or trample on the people’s rights. Rather, it should be a challenge to all leaders to render services to the people.

Impartiality of the police during the electioneering period is critical. We therefore call on all those responsible over the police service to ensure that the police remain impartial and that they exercise their duty with sobriety.

  1. Insecurity and Ethnic Conflicts in Parts of the Country

We are concerned about the continued spate of violence and loss of lives due to banditry in Baringo, Laikipia, Isiolo, Samburu, Marsabit, Kerio Valley and parts of Meru bordering Isiolo. These conflicts are often inflamed by drought and politics. During drought, livestock move from one region to another in search of pasture and water.

The herders are usually armed with illegally held guns which they abuse in cattle rustling and fight over water and pasture. In election years, political interests camouflaged as fight over resources drive these conflicts.

We recognize the recent interventions by Government in some of these areas. However, there is need for Government to find a lasting solution to these perennial conflicts to stem needless loss of life. A multi-pronged approach towards ending the conflicts should be considered.

Apart from mopping up of illegal guns, a new long-term strategy that seeks to wean the people from overdependence on a livestock economy must be put in place. For instance, there is need to improve access to education and other vocational skills by young people to give them alternative livelihood options. There is also need to improve infrastructure in these regions to support the growth of rural trading centres and create opportunities for thriving businesses and incubation of innovative investment options for young people.

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.

  1. High Cost of Living

We are concerned about the rising cost of living in the country. The prices of essential commodities such as flour, cooking gas, cooking oil, rice and bread have skyrocketed in recent days making them unaffordable to most families. Many Kenyans are suffering considering that a large proportion of them are living below the poverty line while many others are still recovering from loss of livelihoods due to Covid-19 lockdowns. 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. The high cost of fuel continues to be a concern because it has a ripple effect on the prices of essential commodities.

Related to the problem of high cost of living is the international debt burden that is affecting the lives of the people of Kenya. 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.

  1. Readiness to Accept Election Results or Seek Redress in Courts

We are aware that one of the driving factors of post-election crisis is the refusal by actors to accept the results of the elections. In this regard, 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. We insist that all disputes and grievances must be addressed through the judicial system in the country.

  1. The Drought Situation

Dear Kenyans, it is with deep concern that we note the fact that Kenya is experiencing the impact of the worst drought ever in 40 years pushing many families to the brink of hunger. This has been caused by three years of below-average rainfall and the situation continues to deteriorate leading to food and water shortage, the death of livestock and loss of livelihoods for the affected communities.

The situation was compounded by the desert locust invasion at the beginning of last year and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, 3.5 million people are food-insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance in Kenya. This is a huge increase since August 2021. Due to lack of water and forced migration, 1.5 million livestock have died. There have been poor harvests and reduced livestock production resulting in households facing food insecurity at a crisis level. The situation has been worsened by an increase in the prices of specific staple foods.

To prevent loss of lives and livelihoods, today, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops is launching a drought appeal to raise a target of Kshs.285,000,000 to provide families affected by drought in Marsabit, Isiolo, Lodwar, Garissa, Kitui, Kilifi, Mombasa, Machakos, Malindi, Maralal, Ngong, parts of Nyahururu, Kitale, Nyeri and Nakuru with cash transfers, water and sanitation, agricultural inputs and fodder and veterinary services for livestock for the next six months.

We are calling on Kenyans and all people of good will to contribute cash and give in kind donations to enable us to salvage the desperate situation for many families affected by drought in the above listed areas. We invite our partners to join this campaign and contribute towards this worthy cause.

Your support will have a multiplier effect as it will prevent migration in search of pasture hence prevent conflict among communities, it will prevent malnutrition and related illnesses and children will stay in school.

Conclusion

Dear Kenyans, as a Nation, we have experienced many tribulations but through prayer, faith and trust in the Lord, we have overcome most of them. As we head towards the General Elections in August, we invite you to continue praying for our country. That we may have peaceful elections. That the Lord will touch our leaders to shelve their individual interests and put the country first.

Let us learn to put our trust in God in all our endeavours. Let us be inspired by the words of the scripture in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

May our Mother Mary, intercede for our Nation to have peaceful elections in August. May she intercede for all of us to love one another and live together peacefully and united as a Nation. May plenty be found within our borders.

God bless you all and God bless Kenya.

Singed by

…………………..……………..……

Most Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde

CHAIRMAN OF KCCB/ARCHBISHOP OF MOMBASA

Friday, 27th May 2022

 

  1. Most Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba – Vice-Chairman/Kisumu
  2. Most Rev. Philip Anyolo – Nairobi
  3. Most Rev. Anthony Muheria – Nyeri
  4. Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa – Kisii
  5. Rt. Rev. Alfred Rotich – Kericho
  6. Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley – Kitale
  7. Rt. Rev. Norman King’oo Wambua – Machakos
  8. Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara – Marsabit
  9. Rt. Rev. David Kamau Ng’ang’a – Apostolic Administrator, Nakuru
  10. Rt. Rev. Anthony Ireri Mukobo – Isiolo Apostolic Vicariate
  11. Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante – Maralal
  12. Rt. Rev. Salesius Mugambi – Meru
  13. Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina – Murang’a
  14. Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki Njiru – Embu
  15. Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich – Eldoret – Apostolic Administrator, Lodwar
  16. Rt. Rev. Joseph Mbatia – Nyahururu
  17. Rt. Rev. John Oballa Owaa – Ngong
  18. Rt. Rev. Joseph Obanyi – Kakamega
  19. Rt. Rev. Joseph Mwongela – Kitui
  20. Rt. Rev. Willybard K. Lagho – Malindi
  21. Rt. Rev. Michael Odiwa Otieno – Homa Bay
  22. Rt. Rev. Mark Kadima – Bungoma
  23. Rt. Rev. George Muthaka – Garissa
  24. Very Rev. Fr. Benjamin K. Maswili – Apostolic Administrator, Military Ordinariate