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Religious Leaders in Kenya Announce Weekly Prayers, Fasting Ahead of 2022 Elections

Credit: Courtesy Photo

Religious leaders in Kenya have called upon the people of God in the East African country to set aside a day each week to pray and fast for a smooth national election set for later this year.

In their third National Religious leaders’ convocation held at Kenya’s Ufungamano house, the religious leaders who include representatives of Catholic Bishops in Kenya cited corruption and incitement to violence as some of the existing ills that threaten the August 9 general elections.

In the communiqué shared with ACI Africa, the religious leaders discuss broadly about the need for the country’s readiness and advocate for National prayers and fasting, fine tuning electoral legislative framework, support for electoral institutions, strengthening security institutions and structures, civic education and the need for political leaders and stakeholders to refrain from hate speech.

“We invite all Kenyans to commit to pray and fast for the nation so that God intervenes and safeguards the lives and wellbeing of all,” the faith leaders say in the communiqué that was shared with ACI Africa Thursday, January 20.

They add, “In this regard, we ask each individual to select one day each week when they will fast and dedicate time to pray for the nation.”

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The leaders promise to organize prayer sessions in their respective places of worship in which institutions related to the country’s elections will be invited. They say that the nation is in what they term a “tricky situation,” with real danger of sinking into violence before, during and after the general elections.

In their two-day convocation that ended on January 20, the religious leaders said Kenya is not ready for the elections and that Kenyans are “sinking deeper into despair.”

“This Convocation is deeply concerned that the nation is obviously not ready for the Elections 2022. Corruption, impunity, lawlessness, insults and incitement to violence are happening with abandon, and Kenyans are sinking deeper into despair and depression,” the leaders say in their communiqué.

They add, “It is a great pain for Kenyans that political and state leaders have in the last 15 years deliberately neglected to address the issues of electoral (in)justices, which exposes the nation to a repeat of the pre- and post-election violence and crisis.”

The religious leaders discussed the electoral legal framework and, in their communiqué say that much still needs to be done.

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They say that there is a need for those concerned to complete working on the country’s Campaign Financing (Amendment) Bill 2020 to guide the forthcoming political campaigns and elections.

Making reference to the Financing Campaign Bill, the faith leaders in Kenya say, “We have committed to engage parliamentarians at the local level to mobilize them to prioritize the elections related laws.” 

“This will be in addition to reaching all concerned institutions to ensure that the laws are implemented and adhered to,” they add.

The religious leaders further say that they will support the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the country’s electoral body, through prayers, pushing for earlier disbursement of funds to the body as well as through seeking protection of election officials.

“We have committed to support the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to deliver the quality of elections envisaged in Article 81 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” they say.

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The leaders highlight reported violence and extra-judicial killings in some parts of the country and say that security institutions are losing control of the situation in the East African nation. 

They discussed the river Yala killing menace in Western Kenya and noted that the country’s security department has been accused of favoritism, disregard for rule of law, and gross human rights abuses.

“We have committed to engage the Inspector General, as well as security agencies at national, county and sub county levels to advocate for equitable implementation of the law,” the faith leaders say in their communiqué shared with ACI Africa.

They add, “In places like Yala, we will set up intelligence committees to investigate the identities of the people being killed as well as their killers and push for prosecution of the suspects.”

The religious leaders representing different faiths in Kenya underscore the need for civic education so as to prepare the public in making right choices and to avoid violence before, during and after the August 9 general elections.

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The religious leaders promise to use places of worship to mobilize Kenyans especially the youth to register as voters and also to deliver civic and voter education that will empower the voters to embrace their sovereignty as Kenyans.

They further promise to deliver messages of peace and National cohesion using available forums including pulpits and other public forums.

The religious leaders promise to reach out to the President of Kenya and to caution him against promoting what they refer to as “succession politics.”

“We have committed to reach out to His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and appeal to him to disengage from the succession politics,” they say, and add, “The President is the symbol of national unity as provided for Article 131 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, and so he should remain above partisan politics, recognizing that he is the President of all Kenyans.”

“We will reach out to the Deputy President, Dr. William Ruto, to point out that he is using public resources and institutions to undertake partisan presidential campaigns, which goes against the values espoused in Article 10 of the Constitution,” the faith leaders say.

They also call upon those planning to vie for various positions in the forthcoming elections to accept results and to address any disputes through the courts of law where they felt aggrieved.