The Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches of Kenya met at Jumuia Guest House, Nakuru from 26 – 28 Marc 2012. We have keenly considered the status of the nation especially in regard to the coming General Elections. We reflected on the life of Samuel as a judge who had the responsibility of leading Israel and was called upon to lead the process of choosing the first and second Kings of Israel.
Anxiety in the Hearts of many Kenyans
After the traumatic experience of the processes surrounding the last General Election and the aftermath of the post election violence whose wounds and consequences are still alive in the minds of Kenyans, most Kenyans are approaching the next polls with fear and trepidation. Across the country, Kenyans express a strong desire for a peaceful election and transition as a minimum delivery by the grand coalition government and all institutions that have a responsibility in the electoral process.
The NCCK would like to restate that the chaos and the violence in the 2007 general election was as a result of a reckless political class and an inept election management institution. Unfortunately, Kenyans are expressing fears that politicians are leading the country along the same path of violence through hate speech, ethnic mobilisation, grand standing and more recently demonization of constitutional institutions. This scenario shows that our leaders have not changed their ways after the lessons of the 2007/2008 chaos.
As the NCCK, we have faith in peaceful Elections and transition. We are engaged and keen to play a very effective role towards a peaceful election and transition. We call upon all other actors to contribute towards making the general elections peaceful and the subsequent transition smooth.
Towards this end, there is need for an extensive and credible civic education, voter education and electoral observation programmes. Voters should be empowered to make informed choices. All Kenyans must demonstrate respect for the rule of law and institutions tasked with electoral process, and have the willingness to facilitate a peaceful transition.
Message to the IEBC
The credibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission is a critical element of the confidence Kenyans will have in the electoral process. We are encouraged by the plan of action which have been put in place by the IEBC to ensure a free and fair election.
NCCK calls upon the IEBC to conduct its affairs in a transparent and accountable manner and resist the pressure from politicians. The Commission should prioritize civic and voter education and partner with credible institutions towards this end. While discharging its mandate it is important that the commission consults with relevant stakeholders as it deems necessary to build the spirit of inclusion.
Being the first election under the new constitution we must build on principles of national unity, justice, democracy and respect for the rule of law. Towards this end, we urge the political players to be in the forefront in advancing these principles.
At this Executive Committee meeting, we have been addressed by the IEBC and conveyed our confidence and support to it in the conduct of its constitutional duty and mandate. We shall remain engaged with the Commission and other actors. We support the IEBC in announcing the date of next General election early enough to create certainty and reduce anxiety.
Message to the President and Prime Minister
The NCCK calls upon the two principals to conclude their Grand Coalition Government peacefully by facilitating an enabling environment for peaceful and secure general elections and transition. At a time of great national emotion, party and vested interests must not be pursued at the expense of holding the nation together and giving the new dispensation a good start. We call on the principals to address the high cost of living that continues to escalate.
Message to Leaders
We call upon all political leaders and candidates to solicit for support peacefully. We urge you to avoid use of hate speech, ethnic mobilization and grandstanding in your search for votes. You should refrain from instilling fear and anxiety in your constituencies and sell your vision and mission instead. We especially call upon the religious leaders to promote peace, love and unity among all Kenyans.
Message to Kenyans
The NCCK sees significant hope in Kenyan communities holding inter and intra ethnic dialogue as a means of healing and reconciling our wounded people. Unless communities define their self-interest in the context of the diversity of our nation, it will not be possible to build a cohesive nation and their own interest will be jeopardized.
The self interests of any community in Kenya would be better advanced by a deliberate collaboration with the interests of other communities. We encourage all Kenyans to confront the ethnic realities of our nation head on by re-evaluating their own interests in the context of the interests of other communities. Communities that have had a history of conflict with one another should bring their tensions on the table, confront and resolve them peacefully. Ethnic competition which rears its ugly head during elections must be tampered with deliberate cooperation by building authentic and sustainable bridges across different ethnic groups.
Under the new Constitution provision of critical services like water, health, transport public works and agriculture have been devolved to the County governments.
We therefore urge Kenyans to note that Governors and Country representatives who will oversee these services will be the most critical leadership to them. We challenge leaders with integrity and capacity to serve to contest in the next election. We urge Kenyans to vet candidates running for offices of Governor and County Assembly representatives to avoid being stuck and disillusioned for five years with incompetent and corrupt County leadership.
We call on all Kenyans to accommodate each other and promote harmonious multi-cultural co-existence. Let us be encouraged by the words of Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” We have faith that the next general election will be peaceful.
May God bless Kenya!
Signed on this 28th day of March 2012 at Jumuia Guest House, Nakuru
The Rev Dr Charles Kibicho
The Rev Canon Peter Karanja