Kenya’s Catholic Bishops Caution Government, Opposition against “stand-off, defiance”

A section of members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB/Catholic Justice and Peace Department Facebook

Resorting to a “stand-off and defiance” on the part of the government and opposition leaders in Kenya will not address the “myriad of problems and crises” ordinary citizens are grappling with, Catholic Bishops in the East African nation have warned.

In their latest statement of Wednesday, March 22, two days after leaders of opposition under the Azimio One Kenya Coalition realized their call for countrywide anti-government demonstrations, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) call on the country’s President, the leader of opposition, and Kenyan politicians to take and “follow the path of peace and dialogue”.

“The disarray and the disturbing scenes we witnessed on 20th March 2023 makes us come back to address you and our leaders both in government and those in opposition,” KCCB members say as a follow up to their March 18 caution against the “slippery road to anarchy” and in reference to protests in sections of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, and other cities in response to the call for “mass action” by the opposition leader, former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga

In the statement that was read out by the Chairman of KCCB, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde, Catholic Bishops in Kenya underscore the need for dialogue, saying, “There cannot be a good reason to resort to the stand-off and defiance of our leaders to the detriment of Kenyans.”

“The chest thumping from those in government that they will not dialogue with the opposition will not solve the concerns and problems Kenyans are saddled with,” KCCB members further say, adding that Kenya “is at a place where blame games by our leaders cannot address the country’s myriad of problems and crises.”


They particularly reach out to Kenya’s President, William Samoei Ruto, to “plead and ask” him to “follow through with his promise to sit with and listen to Hon. Raila Odinga and other leaders and come out with some reasonable proposals to address the main plights in our country.”

Catholic Bishops in Kenya also reach out to Hon. Odinga “to accept dialogue for the good of the country,” and add, “We believe that a sitting and dialogue can solve this dangerous stand-off. The two need to establish a common ground to address the ills facing the Country and restore the sanity we need in our country.”

Among the “current challenges” Kenya is grappling with, Catholic Bishops say, include the fact that despite the country’s Supreme court declaration on the outcome of the August 2022 Presidential poll, “there are those who still dispute on who won the election”.

The divisions among the officials of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and specifically the “saga surrounding” four of the seven IEBC Commissioners “who had a contrary view on the elections results announcement has become a bone of contention,” they say.

They continue, “There is also the perception that the government is vindictive to targeted individuals who are being harassed on issues relating to taxation and acquisition of property.”

More in Africa

Economically, KCCB members say, “people are struggling to make ends meet.”

The economic challenges are seen in “the devastating cost of living, high inflation, high and crippling taxation, excessive borrowing that has made Kenyans slaves in their country working to pay creditors,” Catholic Bishops say in their March 22 statement. 

The challenge of “high levels of unemployment that have made our youth to lose hope” is a matter that KCCB members say require addressing.

They fault President Ruto-led government for showing insensitivity to the plight of Kenyans in the decision to appoint 50 Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS), up from 23. KCCB members say, “The appointment of bloated CAS does not show sensitivity to the prevailing economic situation.”

“Similarly, the country has experienced a very serious drought that has destroyed the livelihoods of many Kenyans, especially the pastoralist communities,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, and add, “There is also the ongoing banditry menace …. that has costed lives and has made the people live in misery and desperation.”


The highlighted challenges need fixing in addition to other “deeper” ills, including “corruption, impunity and lawlessness that have bedeviled our country,” KCCB members say.

“Kenyans are deeply frustrated but we need to offer them solutions,” they say, adding that the solutions to be found need to be those that foster peace and that “keep the unity of our country solid and intact.”

The Catholic Church leaders express their opposition to “the use of force witnessed in some instances on the part of the police during the political demonstrations on 20th March 2023. The injuries and loss of even one life is way too expensive. Kenyan lives matter. We urge restraint of police in such occasions and urge them against (the) use of live bullets and excessive force”.

“We wish to once more make a passionate appeal to the people of Kenya to refrain from continued demonstrations as announced by the leader of the opposition,” KCCB members say in reference to the opposition leaders’ declaration of weekly demonstrations.  

“The fact that it is legal to demonstrate should not make it a vehicle to paralyze the Country, nor degenerate to a forceful takeover of a legitimate Government,” they say. 

(Story continues below)

Catholic Bishops in Kenya address themselves “personally to Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, Hon. Martha Karua, Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka, Hon. Jeremiah Kioni and to the entire opposition” saying that “it is not opportune to have demonstrations since such actions will not resolve the problems or grievances cited.”

They also term as “dangerous” the call for the resignation of the current government of Kenya and to be replaced by the leader of the opposition, Hon. Odinga. The call, Catholic Bishops say, “goes against the fact that Kenya is a country governed by the Constitution.”

“We have a constitutionally legitimate Government. Any contestation can only be challenged in the courts. Demonstrations cannot annul or take over the Constitution,” they say, and emphasize, “We must respect the rule of law. The only way to avoid chaos and anarchy is always to follow the Constitution and the laws of the land.”

KCCB members express their “intention and willingness” to mediate, advocating for a “national conversation over the issues that are ailing us”.

ACI Africa was founded in 2019. We provide free, up-to-the-minute news affecting the Catholic Church in Africa, giving particular emphasis to the words of the Holy Father and happenings of the Holy See, to any person with access to the internet. ACI Africa is proud to offer free access to its news items to Catholic dioceses, parishes, and websites, in order to increase awareness of the activities of the universal Church and to foster a sense of Catholic thought and culture in the life of every Catholic.