Eldoret bishop calls for an end to UhuRuto wars

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto during the 57th Jamhuri Day national celebrations at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Nairobi County. [DPPS, Standard]

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret Dominic Kimengich has called on politicians not to divide Kenyans even as the country heads into next month's elections.

Kimengich also expressed displeasure with the bitter public exchanges that have lately characterised the relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto saying this could divide the country.

He appealed to Uhuru and Ruto to stop attacking each other saying the animosity between them will hurt the country.

"Their war is unnecessary. The things that are coming out of their mouths have the potential to incite the people against each other. As religious leaders, we will continue to play our role, preaching the gospel as we as peace to our flocks. This is what we also want to see the politicians do," Kimengich said.

"It is shameful witnessing the president and his deputy engage in bitter public exchanges. Are there no other means to resolve their disputes? The same thing that will to a family happen when parents fight in front of their children is what will happen to Kenya if Uhuru and Ruto continue attacking each other in public. This is because they are viewed as symbols of unity." 

The cleric also challenged the media to offer fair and accurate coverage of campaigns that will help avert tribal animosity.

The cleric also sought to dismiss a report by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission that parts of the North Rift region are prone to election-related violence.

"The media should also protect our country by writing and publishing some positive stories. They should do so without discriminating against anyone," Bishop Kimengich said.

He added: "The media should also strive not to publish fake news. The media should publish accurate information knowing that it is based on the information they give to the public that people make important decisions. And they should do this without creating enmity between people, groups or even communities that may cause chaos."

He urged the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) to ensure the elections are free and fair.

"Generally, Kenyans are peaceful people. The problems we have faced are, by and large, brought by our leaders. Let us remember that elections come and go. We will always remain Kenyans. The one who wins the presidential race will be our president. Therefore, let us vote peacefully," Kimengich said.

The bishop said the Catholic church has been holding meetings with leaders from the various political coalitions to discuss measures to be taken to ensure peaceful elections.

He called on politicians to preach peace during their campaigns even as he expressed displeasure with some of the utterances some politicians have been making which he said have the potential to divide the country.

The cleric called on Kenyans to refuse to be divided along tribal or political party lines.