, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – Church leaders on Saturday launched their No campaign against the Proposed Constitution in Nairobi, in a rally that was joined by politicians opposed to the draft.
National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) General Secretary Canon Peter Karanja and Higher Education Minister William Ruto addressed thousands at Uhuru Park and urged Kenyans, to reject the draft.
"The church remains committed to a new Constitution but the country should not endorse a flawed draft. There are proposals in this draft that compromises our religion and therefore we will vote No," said Canon Karanja.
He urged all Kenyans to read the draft "and evaluate it against the desire to have a country that ensures equality, justice and peace."
"The reason the church has taken strong positions is because we love our motherland. It is because we are committed as demanded by scripture to carry out our civic duty to enthrone God," he said adding that "in that endeavor we have no fear, we have no shame."
Mr Ruto who has come out as the political leader of the NO campaign promised church leaders to work together in defeating the Proposed Constitution.
Addressing the gathering Mr Ruto castigated the government for dismissing the concerns of the Church leaders.
"We stand on the side of the people who want genuinely to have a just and fair constitution for our motherland," he proclaimed.
Other politicians at the event included Rift Valley MPs, Isaac Ruto, Peris Simam, David Koech and Jebii Kilimo among others. Others were Mithika Linturi, Kiema Kilonzo, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru and Cyrus Jirongo.
"We have been told that this is a better Constitution, but if we wanted a better one we should have amended the old one. We wanted a new, overhaul constitution which is just and fair," said Mr Ruto.
The clergy is opposed to the inclusion of Kadhis Courts and a clause they claim leaves a loophole for the legalization if abortion. NO camp politicians are contesting the land chapter saying it is bent to bring conflict in the country. They are protesting a clause that empowers Parliament to fix the minimum and maximum size of land one can own.
Retired Nairobi Pentecost Church Bishop Boniface Adoyo told the gathering that the Church was standing for what they believe was right.
"The church in Kenya is standing at a very decisive moment. Never again in our history has the church been called to make a choice. It is a spiritual choice," he said.
Church leaders who had organised the meeting insisted it was purely for prayers, although critics saw it as a launch to their No campaign.
The meeting came barely two days, after the publication of the proposed constitution in readiness for the referendum. The Interim Independent Electoral Commission is scheduled to publish the referendum question next week after which it will announce the referendum date within two weeks.
The Committee of Experts is on Tuesday set to launch a month long civic education to inform Kenyans on the contents of the draft. The clergy has said they will use worship services to push their agenda.
\’Say No peacefully\’ is the theme of the Church campaign.
"We promise to conduct our civic education and campaigns in peace. We would want on our count that any Kenyan should be hurt," promised Canon Karanja.
Attorney General Amos Wako on Thursday advised that all rallies for Yes and No camp should be suspended until the 30-day civic education period comes to an end.