, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 22 – The country’s mainstream churches plan to hold an ecumenical prayer service at the Holly Family Basilica next Friday to call for a peaceful referendum and urge their faithful to vote ‘No’ on August 4.
While stressing that the Churches’ campaigns and rallies were not being funded by foreign sources, Nairobi Catholic Archbishop Cardinal John Njue dismissed recent opinion polls that have shown the ‘No’ team could lost out during the vote.
“Don’t worry about that; the most important is that whether it is ‘Yes’ or it is ‘No’ we retain unity. What follows after that will be dealt with at the appropriate time. The consequences will come later on; let no one say they weren’t warned,” he said.
On his part, Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said the church remained united in its cause but would not force those who had broken ranks with it to change their stance.
“If you hear someone in the church (be they a leader or a follower) saying ‘No’ or ‘Yes’ we will not and cannot stop them. But we will continue providing the required leadership which you can choose to either regard or ignore,” he said.
He was responding to concerns about members of the church being divided on the proposed law.
The Anglican church which also said it was still open to dialogue however upheld its position saying there was need for the contentious issues to be resolved. Cardinal Njue argued that the church was not blind to the fact that Kenyans wanted a new Constitution.
“We feel that the issues we have raised need to be sorted out before we can move on and it would not be right for us to say just let it pass. Our conscience is clear,” he said.
He further decried the failure of the consensus seeking committee that was established in April with representatives from both the government and the churches to help look into the areas of concern.
“You know very well that at some point a committee was even established to look at the emerging issues. Unfortunately it could not work. So efforts have been done beginning from our own side but they have also not borne fruit,’ he said.
The consensus building talks ended in a deadlock after the government reportedly said it was not ready to proceed with the talks. The church then accused the government of not being committed to the talks and decided to run its ‘No’ campaigns.
The church still wants amendments to the proposed law with only 12 days remaining to the August vote. It wants the abortion clause re-written saying it creates loopholes that will in future allow the procurement of the procedure. The church is also opposed to the inclusion of the Kadhis court arguing it elevates one religion above the rest.