By ALLY JAMAH
Church leaders have cautioned the government against sliding into oppressive tendencies on the political and economic fronts, saying this would be a threat to the country’s wellbeing.
Led by the Rev Zacchaeus Okoth, the chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, the leaders said the move to deny thousands of teachers their July pay for taking part in an industrial action was oppressive and alarming. They insisted teachers cannot be punished for rightly demanding their long awaited payrise.
They also expressed concern at the attempts by security agents to summon individuals who are perceived to be holding divergent political views. This was in apparent reference to the questioning by CID of Eliud Owalo, the March elections campaign manager of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga over allegations of plots to destabilise the government.
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“Kenyans still have bitter memories of former regimes and how security organs were used to intimidate, harass, torture and silence those of divergent opinions. We reaffirm our belief in the Constitution and the several rights and freedoms guaranteed therein and urge the government to respect, uphold and protect human rights,” they said.
They added, “Are we sliding back to the bad old days? What has happened to constitutionalism and good governance? Is this country upholding the spirit and letter of the Constitution? We challenge the Government to direct such energies towards ensuring detection, prevention of crimes and overall national security and stability of all Kenyans.”
The leaders said national and county leaders should stand up to their obligations to unite the country and give it a new start, adding that the nation remains bitterly divided after the March elections.
The Church leaders also lamented the economic oppression of Kenyans in the form of over-taxation, particularly through the proposed VAT Bill.