Bishops warn of chaos if polls mishandled

Catholic Bishops Rev Martin Kivuva  Rev Philip Anyolo during a press conference by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). [Esther Jeruto, Standard]

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops has warned Kenya could slide into chaos if adequate measures to safeguard the electoral process are not taken.

The clergy from over 20 counties who met in Nairobi also called upon State officers to desist from engaging in political activities.

They were led by their chair, the Most Reverend Martin Kivuva Musonde who is also the Mombasa Archbishop.

The Archbishop raised concerns on how political parties conducted their primaries with claims of voter bribery, intimidation of voters, marked ballot papers, missing names in party registers, rowdy crowds in polling centres as shadows of the way corruption can play out in the General Election.

He said that unless drastic measures are taken, there is a real danger of the country descending into chaos. 

“We warn that the political trends so far observed are generating fear among Kenyans. Unless drastic measures are taken and a new electoral strategy that controls the conduct and behaviour of politicians and the electorate is enforced, the country could descending into chaos,” he said.

The clergy asked political leaders to conduct themselves with civility and avoid engaging in electoral fraud.

Musonde said as a church, they are committed to playing their part in ensuring a peaceful and credible electioneering process through prayer and civic education.

They acknowledged the key role played by persons and institutions charged with responsibilities touching on elections and their need to be well prepared and transparent.

“We call on these institutions to deal firmly with candidates engaging in voter bribery, inciting people, spewing hate speech and conducting violent campaigns, including barring them from running from office,” Musonde said.

“We call upon State officers to desist from engaging in political activities as is required of them in Article 75 of the Constitution.”

The church leaders asked the voters to elect leaders based on their integrity and shun candidates who are leaning towards ideologies that are destructive to African values and cultures.

“It is paramount that our choice of leaders should focus on those who have social concern, dignity, and respect of our national values,” said Musonde.

He praised the National Prayer Breakfast held on Thursday and which was filled with calls for forgiveness and unity among the leaders.

“It is a good sign of humility to acknowledge you may have failed, as humans we all do fail from time to time,” he said.

His colleague Archbishop Anthony Muheria spoke about enhancing Kenyans’ trust in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. He said that in order to gain the trust of Kenyans, they must show preparedness in their capacity to deliver free and fair elections.

“We call upon all actors to handle electoral and judicial institutions with integrity and honesty,” said Muheria.

The church leaders called on all aspirants to commit to accept results and seek redress through the courts if aggrieved.

They also called on security agencies to be more proactive in addressing insecurity in parts of the country as opposed to reacting after lives are lost and engaging in blame games.

“We recognise the recent interventions by the government in some of the areas hit by insecurity, but there is need for the government to find a lasting solution to these perennial conflicts,” Muheria said.