Narratives from a section of Kenyan politicians about postponing the 8 August 2022 general elections is a concern Catholic Bishops in Kenya want addressed.
The debate about postponing the general elections, KCCB members say, is “creating needless apprehension amongst the people and predictably, the political class.”
The polls “must proceed as scheduled,” the Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, and add, “Postponing the elections will only heighten political tension, anxiety and unrest.”
They call upon relevant government entities and members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to “come out authoritatively and confirm the date for the next general elections and ensure that all constitutional requirements for holding the elections are put in place.”
The Catholic Bishops further call on Kenyans to embrace the Court of Appeal judgement against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill.
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"Following the recent Court of Appeal judgement on the Referendum Bill, we urge all Kenyans to see this as a huge step towards the entrenchment of constitutionalism and the rule of law in our Country,” they say.
The Bishops add, "We therefore call on all the arms of Government to respect the rule of law and exercise sobriety as they carry on with their respective complementary roles in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya.”
They also call on the citizenry to “desist from concentrating too much on the fate or outcome of the BBI process at the expense of addressing other matters affecting Kenyans, particularly as we approach the August 2022 general elections.”
In their September 15 collective statement, KCCB members also call for legal reforms saying, "In the interest of ensuring that we have free and fair general elections in August 2022, there is need for immediate legal reforms to the electoral laws within the next three months."
They urge Lawmakers and IEBC officials in Kenya to “act quickly to ensure that all necessary electoral reforms are carried out by December 2021.”
Lawmakers and IEBC officials have to "act quickly to ensure that all necessary electoral reforms are carried out by December 2021," KCCB members say.
"We, however, reiterate our position that any far-reaching constitutional amendments, especially those requiring a referendum, should only be addressed after the August 2022 general elections," they say.
The Catholic Church Leaders in Kenya also express their concerns about the increase in “incidences of political thuggery and intolerance in the country” and urge politicians “to exercise sobriety and tone down on political rhetoric.”
“Nobody, irrespective of his/her position or political leaning, should be allowed to threaten the lives of Kenyans in pursuit of his/her political ambitions and goals,” KCCB members say, and caution Kenyans against “following political leaders blindly.”
They further express their concerns about the “politically instigated” violence taking place in some regions of the country and urge the Kenyan government “to provide security to all Kenyans.”
“Communities in Laikipia, Marsabit and Kerio Valley deserve security and peace so they can go about their daily lives,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, and add, “The spate of anarchy in these areas must be stopped. Residents must be assured of their security. No resources should be spared to restore calm in the disturbed areas.”
They call on officials of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission “to take action on all politicians who by their political pronouncements are spreading ethnic hatred and divisions.”
“We, therefore, invite all Kenyans to continue praying for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and for peaceful elections in 2022 as we count on the intercession of Saint Joseph, the Guardian of the Holy Family,” KCCB members say.
They also pray for improved weather conditions to reduce suffering from the ongoing drought in the country.
“May we also continue to promote peace and justice in order to preserve the integrity of our country and the dignity of our people,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say in their September 15 statement titled, “A call to keep our hope alive.”
Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.