Clerics boycott meeting with Attorney General Githu Muigai
By Lilian Aluanga-Delvaux and Faith Ronoh | November 15th 2014
A section of religious leaders stormed out of a meeting with the Attorney General (AG) Githu Muigai, accusing him of “deception”.
The AG had called the meeting, which was scheduled to be held at the AG’s chambers but was moved to Kenyatta International Conference Centre. It was attended by more than 60 members of the clergy to discuss the controversial move to tighten regulations governing registration of religious organisations.
Religious leaders who walked out later converged at Ufungamano Hall where they addressed journalists. The clerics cited ‘a strong sense of deception by the AG’s office’ in its handling of the meeting, and took issue with the ‘turning into a public ‘baraza’ what they thought was a closed door session between them and the AG.
“In the middle of the week, we received an invitation from the office of the Attorney General to attend a meeting in his chambers to consult on the proposed regulation of religious institutions.
Upon arrival at the AG’s chambers, we were informed that the meeting had been moved to KICC, where we found a large hall had been secured complete with media ready for live transmission,” National Council of Churches of Kenya Chair Canon Peter Karanja said.
Speaking after nearly two hours of deliberations held behind closed doors with representatives from the Catholic, Anglican and Evangelical churches, the AG refuted claims that the Government “wants to curtail religious freedoms”.
Prof Muigai also announced the setting up of a special unit within the Societies section of the Registrar’s office to handle registration of religious organisations.
The Registrar General Bernice Gachegu and Constitution Implementation Commission member Kamotho Waiganjo also attended. The move to review regulations governing religious institutions in the country comes after an expose by KTN’s ‘Jicho Pevu’ showing how Victor Kanyari has been fleecing his congregation by faking miracles.
Besides acknowledging that implementing the new Marriage Act was witnessing teething problems, which were being addressed, Muigai said deliberations were also ongoing on the place of the Societies Act in regulating activities of religious groups. He said the Government had no intention of regulating religious organsiations nor interfere with their theological duties.
“The Government recognises the vital role played by religious organisations, besides providing spiritual nourishment, as a partner in development, health, education and social welfare,” he said. The Government, however, said Muigai, had a responsibility to ensure religious organisations operate in a peaceful environment.
Churches had taken issue with the AG’s office over the recent ban in registration of new organisations, with some clerics saying it was akin to ‘persecuting the Church’.
Muigai, however, said the moratorium is a short-term measure to permit dialogue between the Government and religious organisations before a framework to streamline their activities is put in place.
At Ufungamano, the clerics reiterated that there is no crisis in the country that warrants the Government putting the nation in panic.
“It is unfair and illogical of the Government to attempt to control and muzzle all religious institutions by introducing new regulations that are not within the law,”Evangelical Alliance of Kenya Chair Mark Kariuki said. Others at the briefing were Sheikh Adan Wachu (Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims), Nitin Malde(Hindu Council of Kenya), David Oginde (Christ is the Answer Ministries), Connie Kivuti (Evangelical Alliance of Kenya) Franklin Wariba (Seventh Day Adventist), Francis Kuria (Inter-religious Council of Kenya) and David Warui (Organisation of African Instituted Churches).
But the AG made it clear that the Government had no such plans.
Those that remained at KICC said that though they were initially skeptical of its agenda, they had held fruitful discussions with the AG.
Said Dr Rev Macmillan Kiiru, an Anglican priest and chairman of the Kiambu County clergy forum: “We look forward to more involvement and collaboration on issues raised during the meeting.”
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