AFRICA/KENYA - Bishops alarm: "There is a risk of economic collapse and open conflict if political forces do not talk"

Thursday, 28 September 2017 politics   elections   bishops  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "Majority and opposition must listen to IEBC’s (Independent Electoral Commission) invitation to dialogue, and chart the way forward with the aim of holding free, fair and credible Presidential Elections scheduled for 26th October, 2017", say the Bishops of Kenya in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides in which they express "their deep concern for the State of our nation".
IEBC is, however, at the center of the controversy because it is accused of being partial by the opposition National Liberation Alliance (NASA), whose candidate, Raila Odinga, came second in the presidential election on August 8, then annulled by the Supreme Court after the opposition had filed an appeal, citing allegations about the electronic voting system (see Fides 9/8/2017 and 1/9/2017). The new elections, scheduled for the first time on October 17, were then postponed to October 26 due to IEBC’s organizational problems. On September 26, the police dispersed about 300 demonstrators in front of IEBC headquarters demanding the resignation of its leaders.
In turn, outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had won the elections, which were then nullified, accuses the Supreme Court of having committed a "coup d'état" with its sentence. In the reasons of the judgment, the Court accused IEBC of having proclaimed the results of the vote on the basis of incorrect data and that the "computer system was infiltrated and compromised so that the information contained was modified".
In this climate of strong political and institutional tension, the Bishops emphasize that "unless we embrace dialogue and reason together and agree on common national steps to stability and effective governance, the risk of plunging into full blown conflict and a collapsing economy is real, and should therefore be avoided at all costs".
The Bishops call upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to "emerge as a symbol of national unity and offer the needed leadership at this point in time". The statement invites majority and opposition to work for the common good in the hope that "this cry from our hearts will be heard in good faith and that we shall pause for a moment and see that we are all winners when we sit around the table and talk".
"We call upon all Kenyans and people of good will to restrain themselves from engaging in violent demonstrations, name calling, hate speech and threats which can only heighten the tension around elections.
We continue to pray for our Country so as to have a Peaceful and Credible elections", concludes the message. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/9/2017)