NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) will sue the government over this week’s riots in Mombasa, which left four churches destroyed.
NCCK General Secretary Peter Karanja told journalists on Wednesday that the council would also seek the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) intervention on the matter, claiming that the violence was politically instigated.
Karanja argued that the conflict, during which some of the churches were set ablaze or vandalised was pre-planned and risked degenerating into an all out religious conflict.
“We are studying and reviewing the matter in relation to engaging the ICC. But the Kenyan public already knows that we are actually in conversation with the court over the post election violence so we shall just upscale this as a matter for serious new engagement,” he said.
He added that the government seemed unable to pursue those responsible for the clashes that were fanning religious tensions.
Karanja urged the international community to put pressure on the Kenyan government to ensure that peace and security were restored.
“As Kenya prepares for the general election in March 2013, the violence is likely to escalate presenting a major humanitarian crisis; a reality that the government is either unwilling or unable to face up to,” he said.
Karanja also announced that the council would seek compensation for the loss of lives and destruction of church property noting that at least 11 churches had been attacked in the past five months.
At least four people, including three prison warders have been killed since Monday when youths started protesting over the killing of radical Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo.
“The violence appears well planned, pre meditated and systematic. What is clear is that peace in this country is about appeasing the angry rather than protecting the innocent,” argued Karanja.
He further warned the government against engaging the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) which has been pushing for the cessation of Mombasa County from the larger Kenya.
“There are issues around MRC that Kenyans must discuss extensively but when people go out and cause mayhem they cannot go back to their homes and eat dinner. That is a matter of law enforcement. Kenyans should not waste time talking to criminals,” he charged.
He also appealed to Kenyans to remain peaceful and exercise restraint over the tensions saying Kenyans should not be dragged into tribal or religious conflicts.
“We believe what the Muslim leaders have said that this is not a religious attack. It has more to do with politics than religious emotion so we ask Kenyans not to be drawn into a religious contest,” he said.
Meanwhile, 24 suspects have been charged at a Mombasa court for participating in the riots.
The youthful suspects appeared before Magistrate Elvis Micheka where they denied the charges and were remanded in custody.
An application to have them released on bond will be heard on September 3.
Acting Security Minister Yusuf Haji revealed that 32 suspects had been arrested over the unrest.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga has at the same time issued a stern warning to those fuelling the violence saying such antics will not be tolerated.
“Christians and Muslims preach peace but there are few people who are out to bring conflict between Christians and Muslims,” he said.
Speaking at an inter-religion peace breakfast meeting in Mombasa, the premier said those who were involved in recent Garissa clashes were the same ones behind the Mombasa violence.
“We are not going to allow outside forces to incite Kenyans to create religious war. We have many political enemies but we want to see co-existence among all the communities living in Mombasa,” he said.