Kenya’s Faith Leaders Engage Main Challenger of President-elect ahead of Election Petition

Faith leaders in Kenya during the consultative prayer meeting with Kenya's former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, at his Karen residence, Nairobi, on 20 August 2022. Credit: Kenya Catholic Media Network/Facebook

Representatives of various faith groups in Kenya on Saturday, August 20, met Raila Amolo Odinga, the main challenger of the country’s Deputy President, Dr. William Ruto.

On August 15, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati, declared Dr. Ruto the winner of the tight Presidential poll with 50.49% of the valid votes, against his main challenger, former Prime Minister who garnered 48.85%. Mr. Odinga has since rejected the declared presidential results, terming them null and void.

The faith leaders, including representatives from the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops  (KCCB), the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) said that the aim of meeting Mr. Odinga, who was preparing to file a petition at the Supreme Court in view of overturning the results of the Presidential election, was to pray with his family.

Credit: Kenya Catholic Media Network/Facebook

The August 20 meeting is also part of the plan of Kenya’s religious leaders under the Dialogue Reference Group (DRG) to engage “key political actors” in the East African country and to provide pastoral care to Kenyans feeling aggrieved by the results of the general elections that were conducted on August 9.


Speaking to members of the press after the consultative prayer meeting at Mr. Odinga’s residence in Karen, Nairobi, KCCB chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde said that participants in the meeting had had an opportunity to pray and to understand the former Prime Minister’s feelings concerning the Presidential election outcome.

“We are here at the residence of Raila Odinga who was one of the contestants in the just concluded presidential election. We are here as representatives of different religious groups for the purpose of praying with him at his home,” Archbishop Kivuva said.

He added, “We have spent a lot of time praying and reflecting on our feelings. And while here, we have realized that Raila has a good heart and he really wants this country to move forward in peace and justice. He would also very much want for the Kenyan electorate to know the truth and what transpired during the election.”

It is the fifth time that Mr. Odinga unsuccessfully contested for the country’s top seat. The political coalition he leads, Azimio La Umoja, had until 2 p.m. on Monday, August 22, to formally lodge their case at Kenya’s Supreme Court.

In the August 20 press conference, Archbishop Kivuva relayed Mr. Odinga’s assurance that a satisfactory legal procedure and accountability on the side of IEBC would accord the Kenyan politician the much-needed peace of mind.

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“We pray that IEBC fulfills its biggest mandate to lay bare the truth concerning its announcement (of a presidential winner) when Raila’s team goes to court. Raila and his team have assured us that they will be okay and grateful when they get the truth of what transpired,” the Local Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Mombasa said.

He urged Kenyans who feel aggrieved concerning the 2022 elections to maintain calm and wait for the direction that the court will provide.

“We as religious leaders urge Kenyans to be patient even as we wait for the truth to come out. Let’s not cause any form of disturbance against each other but pursue the truth with patience and humility,” the chairman of KCCB said.

ACK Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit who was also at the August 20 consultative prayer meeting confirmed that Mr. Odinga is a member of the ACK, allaying uncertainties that dominated the politician’s campaigns, of his religious beliefs.


“We are here today as a fraternity of various faiths in the country to provide our pastoral care to the family,” Archbishop Ole Sapit said, and added, “I want to affirm that this family belongs to the Anglican Church. I know there have been many people doubting where they worship. We are here as his pastors and a fraternity of the people of faith to do pastoral care and visit and pray with them.”

The Anglican Church leader lauded Mr. Odinga for his decision to pursue truth in a legal system and not allowing protests to reign.

Credit: Kenya Catholic Media Network/Facebook

“We can affirm that this family is a family that stands for peace. They have decided to pursue truth and justice through the legal systems of the court, which is what we have been advocating and crying for; that instead of people going to the streets in Kenya, let us seek to have our democracy in a way that we all know what transpired,” Archbishop Ole Sapit said.

He added, “We want to continue to encourage anybody looking for truth and for justice to pursue it through legal means.”

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The sixth ACK Archbishop reiterated Archbishop Kivuva’s call for calm, saying, “We want to urge all Kenyans to be patient as that path is being pursued to protect our nation and democracy for posterity.”

“Our role today was to visit this family, having visited other political leaders in the country. We shall continue reaching out to everybody because we have a pastoral duty in this nation and to each one of us,” Archbishop Ole Sapit said during the August 20 press conference.

In his address at the press conference, Mr. Odinga thanked the religious leaders for the prayer session and maintained his position on the presidential election outcome.

“I wish to thank all of us gathered here, including the religious leaders, for coming to pray with us and to talk with us concerning what has transpired in our country,” Kenya’s former Prime Minister said.

He added, “We have maintained our wish to see justice done for peace to prevail. The late (Archbishop) Desmond Tutu said that there can’t be peace without truth and that without peace, there can’t be truth.”

Mr. Odinga expressed his astonishment concerning the presidential elections, and said that IEBC’s conduct in the polls had put Kenya to shame.

“Having been in a race, and running to the finish line, I was surprised to see the referees differ on who actually won the race. No one knows the truth as to what transpired. Such things can only happen here in Kenya,” the Azimio La Umoja party leader said, and added, “The fact that some people charged with such a huge responsibility in our nation can perform such shameful acts indicates that we are nowhere close to democracy.”

Mr. Odinga said that the presidential election results that IEBC chairman declared had cast a shadow of sadness on a large section of the Kenyan electorate.

“What just happened caught many (Azimio La Umoja supporters) by surprise and many are still in a deep state of sadness,” he said.

Mr. Odinga who has also lauded the move of four of the seven IEBC Commissioners to disown the presidential poll results that the chairman of IEBC announced cautioned against recognizing Dr. Ruto as the fifth president of the Eastern Africa country.

He said, “At this point, we don’t expect to see anyone celebrating a winner, yet I see other people mentioning a president-elect. It is so embarrassing that at this point, we haven’t received a collective statement from all the IEBC officials concerning the election outcome.”

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The former Prime Minister maintained his desire to see peace prevail in Kenya, underlining his decision to go the constitutional way.

Mr. Odinga said that his team had gathered enough evidence to prove that the results of the August 9 presidential election were “a big joke”.

“As a team, we have maintained that we wouldn’t want to see any form of unrest or disorderliness in our nation. I want to see peace prevail in our nation and that is why we decided to pursue law and to go to the Supreme Court to deliver the evidence we gathered to prove that whatever happened was a big joke and not an election,” Odinga said.

He added, “We are only doing this to defend the democracy of our nation; a democracy that many people fought for. Many lost their lives fighting for this democracy. We believe that it is our duty, those of us who are still alive, to fight not to go back to where we came from in terms of democracy.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.