NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – Religious leaders and elders have urged the two leading political camps to cool down temperatures by desisting from making remarks that suggest they are the outright winners even before elections are held.
Canon Peter Karanja, the Secretary General of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) told Capital FM News on Wednesday that such rhetoric risks inflating the expectations of voters who may easily reject the outcome of the General Election.
“Our message to Kenyans is that this is an election, votes are not cast, we don’t know who will win and every Kenyan must prepare themselves for the possibility that whereas their candidate might win the election, it might turn out that it is their candidate who will not win,” Canon Karanja said.
His remarks were backed by the Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit who affirmed that it is only the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that is constitutionally mandated to declare election results, urging political players to respect the law.
“IEBC is the only body mandated to manage elections as the official referee when an election is called. Everyone else can have their own tallies to monitor the results but only IEBC can declare results,” Archbishop Sapit said.
He called upon Kenyans to resist any attempt to be incited to violence, saying those aggrieved should seek legal redress.
According to Sapit, the parallel tallying centres, if any, should only be used as tools to collect evidence to be produced in court while challenging the outcome of the August 8 elections.
“If there’s a dispute and you’re not satisfied please do not sort it out in streets. Produce your evidence in court and the court will be able to rule and by so doing we shall be a nation that follows the rule of law,” the Anglican Church head said.
The two who spoke at end of the National Clergy and Elders Consultative Forum co-convened by the NCCK and All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) urged the electoral agency to share information regularly with the public in order to eliminate distrust that may arise from misinformation.
The absence of information, according to Archbishop Sapit is the recipe for speculation and suspicion, something that could poke holes into IEBC’s credibility.
The forum convened Monday also resolved to actively engage members of its respective communities with a view of making sure they participate in polls in a manner that promotes peace and stability.
The over 200 religious leaders, elders, women and youth leaders also called upon Kenyans to reject candidates inciting violence, the clergy committing to denouncing candidates who instigate hatred and violence.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) was also challenged to apprehend those who break the law.
“The greatest tragedy in Kenya has been the consistent failure to have law breakers speedily and harshly punished,” the leaders noted in a joint statement.
They also called upon the IEBC to impose strict penalties upon politicians who breach election laws.