Kenyan clerics play down political row

February 17, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17 – Christian leaders are urging Kenyans to avoid falling prey to the ongoing political standoff within the coalition government and being incited into taking sides. 

The Secretary General of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, Canon Peter Karanja said the current standoff was occasioned by selfish political interests and not the fight against corruption as alleged and should therefore not be a basis to divide the nation.

“Politicians are engaged in their own drama,” he said of the prevailing heightened political climate and warned that the conflict was similar to those that preceded the divisive 2005 referendum and the post election violence three years later.

“Kenyans should refuse to be drawn into political squabbles and incited into potential violence and unnecessary mass action that only endangers the lives of public,” he said.

Canon Karanja led various church leaders in accusing the coalition government of losing focus on the reform agenda and instead diverting attention to their selfish interests.

“Kenyans should beware of this and rise to take charge of their future and not leave it to politicians,” he said.

The storm kicked off at the weekend when President Mwai Kibaki overruled Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s suspension of Ministers William Ruto and Sam Ongeri over the twin multibillion maize and the free education scandals.

“It is hypocritical for them to pretend to be so committed to the fight against corruption that it is enough to stall the government.  Both the President and the Prime Minister have not shown a track record to fight graft,” he complained.

After chairing a meeting of various church leaders in Nairobi, he said the conflict did not warrant any international mediation as requested by the Orange Democratic Movement. He termed the dispute a “housekeeping matter that is within their powers to resolve.”

The clergy in the meantime told off doctors and nurses opposed to the outlawing of abortion in the new constitution accusing them of pursuing selfish financial gains at the expense of innocent unborn children.

“It is shocking for medical doctors to declare that during the pregnancy a woman is carrying a lifeless thing,” said Rev Willy Mutiso.

The discussion on abortion has attracted heated debate from both pro-life and pro-choice campaigners after the Parliamentary Select Committee on constitution review introduced a clause in the draft law to make it illegal to abort in Kenya unless when the life of the mother is in danger.

The NCCK also welcomed efforts by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo for dialogue with Muslims over the disputed inclusion of Kadhi courts in the constitution. Canon Karanja said the meeting would be a good avenue to avert the rejection of the draft at the referendum.


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