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Clerics say rising political heat bad for law and order

By Jeckonia Otieno | October 17th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Bishop John Warari addressing the press. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Religious leaders have warned of a possible return to violence as the country heads towards the 2022 General Election.

The leaders, under the banner of Dialogue Reference Group, raised concern that Kenya has lost track and is clawing back on reforms. They also faulted the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), claiming it had been turned into a political tool dividing Kenyan.

In a statement read by Mombasa Catholic Archbishop Martin Kivuva, they said: “The Dialogue Reference Group recalls that in July 2018, we highlighted to the nation that there were three possible scenarios moving forward. In our meeting and previous consultations, we have reviewed the state of the nation and have today revisited the scenarios.”  

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Among the scenarios the leaders predicted are the tendency to normalise crisis and national stagnation whereby underlying conflicts are never resolved.

The opposition is captured even as violation of human rights, impunity and blatant disregard of the rule of law is perpetuated, the said. As these happen, corruption is thriving, with no meaningful reforms, no dialogue and a business as usual attitude.

The second scenario was a collapse of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. They also envisaged an implosion of the Jubilee Party, along with the discord between the President and his deputy William Ruto leading to a fallout between their supporters. This, the said, would lead to a focus on 2022 elections which will make campaigns overshadow national reconciliation and development agenda.

The church leaders say they foresaw Jubilee use its majority to consolidate power and hinder genuine reforms. This would be followed by an emergence of underground militia and weakened social institutions, which could lead to anarchy.

Country remains

“It is highly regrettable that two years later, the country remains in a scenario one status, while speeding fast towards scenario two. If we do not have a change of heart, we risk experiencing widespread conflict and violence before, during and after the 2022 elections,” the leaders warned.

This is in stark contrast to the third scenario under which the leaders imagined dialogue and transformation which would have led to an all-inclusive dialogue leading to genuine reforms.

Under this scenario they hoped reforms would be undertaken in the electoral regime to ensure future elections are free, fair, peaceful and credible.

As a way forward, the leaders proposed the reformation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

They said: “It is worrying that 20 months before the elections, the four commissioners who resigned have not been replaced and the process of appointing a substantive chief executive officer is in limbo.”

The leaders blamed the Parliament for neglecting his duties of putting in place a legal framework to start the process of filling vacancies at IEBC. They also called upon Parliament to legislate a framework that will appoint commissioners who will not be controlled by political parties.

The group pushed for corruption cases to be dealt with conclusively. They mentioned the recent scandals such the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority fraud where an estimated Sh2 billion could have been lost through questionable dealings.

“We urge the President to institute a consultative process to develop a graft eradication strategy. Knee-jerk reactions will not eradicate the impunity that drives corruption.”

The proposed changes to the Constitution also drew the interest of the clerics, who advised that reforms should lead to an inclusive government rather than an expanded one. They said the process should be consultative, inclusive and based on consensus. The group said the National Security Advisory Council’s recent move to restore order was likely to curtail freedom of worship.

Religious leaders 2022 General Election Raila Odinga President Uhuru Kenyatta
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