Advertisement

“Embrace civic duty, get registered as voters”: Religious Leaders in Kenya to New Voters

Somw members of the Interreligious Council of Kenya. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The ongoing voter registration exercise in Kenya has been characterized with a low turnout, members of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) have noted with concern, and called on new eligible voters to “embrace” their civic responsibility by registering as voters.

Only 760,000 Kenyans have registered as voters against the targeted 45 million new voters by this ending week, the Chairperson of Kenya’s the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati has been quoted as saying.

"We urge our congregants to embrace the civic duty of making informed decisions, get registered as voters and be ready to vote," IRCK members who include representatives of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) say in a Wednesday, October 27 statement. 

They add, still addressing themselves to members of various religious denominations in Kenya, “We prevail upon you to ensure that your name is in your preferred polling station and to observe law and order now, during and after the August 2022 elections.”

Registering as voters presents new eligible voters “opportunity to change their destiny," IRCK members further say. 

Advertisement

While announcing the statistics of the voter registration process that started on October 4 and is expected to end on November 2, Mr. Chebukati expressed concern about voter apathy in the East African nation. 

In their statement signed by IRCK’s Chairperson, Fr. Joseph Mutie, Kenya’s religious leaders call on officials of the electoral commission “to focus on technical issues deemed critical to election legitimacy, such as the electoral database’s reliability and election results compilation.”

The religious leaders also pledge to support the electoral body “to ensure enhanced and regular dialogue with all candidates in order to ensure a peaceful process before, during and after the elections.” 

Kenya experienced post-election violence in 1992, 2007/2008 and 2017. 

In their October 27 statement, the faith-based leaders who say they recognize Kenya’s history with post-election violence express concerns about the “emerging political intolerance” in the country, and call on politicians to be accommodative to those of opposing opinions ahead of the August 2022 general polls. 

More in Africa

“We express our deep concern about the emerging political intolerance and appeal to politicians to embrace diversity of opinion,” they say. 

The religious leaders encourage members of the political class to “participate in a constructive and peaceful manner in the entire electoral process, including after the elections.”

They also call on political parties in Kenya to “sign and respect the electoral code of conduct elaborated by the IEBC, the political decency charter by the NCIC (National Cohesion and Integration Commission).”

There is need for the youth in Kenya to “break the destructive narrative as drivers of conflict, or as victims” IRCK members observe.

“We call upon the youth to harness their full potential and leadership as effective peacebuilders,” they say in their statement that was also undersigned by the Chairperson of the NCIC, Dr. Samuel Kobia. 

Advertisement

The religious leaders in Kenya further urge those who engage social media to use the sites for promoting peace instead of inciting the people against each other. 

The faith-based leaders tell journalists in Kenya to “maintain a high level of professionalism, accuracy and impartiality in their coverage of political activities during this electioneering period.”

On their part, the religious leaders express their commitment to promoting peace as political campaigns in the East African nation gain momentum.

They say, “We commit to support the established institutions to do their role in ensuring peaceful elections and offer to be part of a national mediation team to facilitate dialogue and disputes resolution among all stakeholders.”