, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – The Catholic Church has challenged politicians to desist from making remarks likely to stir violence in the run up to the August 8 General Election.
Speaking on Tuesday during a breakfast meeting with the Editors Guild on the upcoming Lent Peace Campaign to be launched on February 25, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (KCCB) Commission for Ecumenism Chairperson Bishop Alfred Korir asked politicians to promote a culture of non-violence to save the country from political tension during and after the elections.
“Sometimes the politicians come on the ground and say oh we want a peaceful election. But they don’t make it,” Bishop Korir noted.
“It is the responsibility of all of us including the politicians to promote non-violence as a lifestyle,” Korir observed.
According to Bishop Korir, inculcating the culture of non-violence remained a major task for the country’s leadership, with its absence costing the nation dearly in the past where contested polls led to bloodletting and loss of property.
“When you promote active non-violence then what you say, what you do, the behaviour around you and the environment as a whole is peaceful,” he said.
Korir further challenged the electorate to demand accountability from their leaders to ensure only those who represent their interests clinch elective seats.
“Look at the people who are going for elections. Are they violent in what they’re saying? Are they people of peace?” he posed adding: “It is how we manage our conversation towards elections so that as we go to the elections we cast our ballots saying we need a lifestyle of non-violence.”
The KCCB through the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) will extend this year’s lent campaign beyond the usual 40 days (between Ash Wednesday and Easter) until August to create awareness on peaceful elections.
During this year’s campaign, the Catholic Church will focus on five thematic areas namely; security, youth and society, environment conservation and protection, the general election, and negative ethnicity.
During the campaign, CJPC will also flag up six areas that its experts say could pose a challenge in the administration of the August 8 General Election.
The six are voter registration, IEBC involvement in party primaries, the collapse of IEBC (as a result of chaotic party primaries), legal timelines and hurdles, technology failure, and peace and security risks.
Bishop Korir also challenged the fourth estate to strive to become instruments of peace by making prior arrangements to ensure the nation remains cohesive.
Speaking on behalf of the media industry, Kenya Editor’s Guild Chairperson Linus Kaikai lauded the initiative by the Catholic Church, saying the media will support efforts to ensure the upcoming elections are peaceful.
“I want to encourage the Church to address the conscience of the country because sometimes it looks as if the conscience is dead,” Kaikai said. “We need to reawaken the conscience of the nation.”