AFRICA/KENYA - The Bishops’ appeal: "No threats to the Supreme Court. It is important to ensure the election is held in a peaceful manner"

Thursday, 7 September 2017 bishops   elections   justice  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "We, the Catholic Bishops, call on all Kenyans to uphold the independence, dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court and Constitutional institutions even when we do not agree with their decisions", say the Bishops of Kenya in a message on the political situation of the Country, sent to Fides. The Bishops applaud the National Super Alliance (NASA) to resort to the Supreme Court, as envisaged by the Constitution, instead of taking the electoral dispute to the court of public opinion, to contest outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory over his candidate, Raila Odinga. The appeal lodged by the opposition was upheld by the Supreme Court (see Fides, 1/9/2017), which contested some irregularities and ruled that the new presidential elections should be held within 60 days. The Electoral Commission (IEBC) decided October 17 as the date of the vote.
However, the Court's ruling caused strong tensions that have resulted in intimidation against its members. "We call on all Kenyans to uphold the independence, dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court and Constitutional institutions", says the Bishops' message. "While every individual can criticize any institution that he or she disagrees with, attacks that diminish the integrity of the Judiciary and any other public institution should stop".
Bishops are also "particularly concerned by the NASA threats to boycott the fresh presidential election that was ordered by the Supreme Court if their ultimatums are not met". "On the other hand, we have seen Jubilee leaders acting as spokespersons of the IEBC. These actions infringe on the independence and authority of IEBC", underlines the message.
Odinga called for a reshuffle of the IEBC and a review of the electronic voting system. Yesterday, September 6, IEBC announced a reshuffle of the composition of the new members. Odinga so far has not spoken about this development that seems to meet, at least in part, his demands.
The Bishops offer themselves "with the other members of the Mediation Panel of the Religious Leaders under the Multi-Sectoral Forum, to facilitate quick talks at the request of IEBC that will help build consensus and confidence around the preparations, processes and actions leading to the holding of the fresh presidential election". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/9/2017)