Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - “The political crisis can be an opportunity to start sincere dialogue on the country’s unsolved problems” the Catholic Bishops of Kenya say in a message sent to Fides, while the country is flounders in the most serious political and institutional crisis following the contested presidential elections held 27 December2007.
The memory of months of violence which followed the hard won win of the then President, Mwai Kibaki (see Fides 7/1/2008) weighs heavily on the present crisis caused by the annulment by the High Court of president elections on Corte 8 August which witnessed the re-confirmation of outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta (see Fides 1/9/2017).
In the run up to elections on 26 October Kenya lives in uncertainty and tension. “Endless electoral disorder has aggravated the social and economic condition of the people” the Bishops write. “our Country is getting more and more divided along political and ethnic lines; the anxiety our children experience every day as regards to their exams; the travellers that are afraid to travel because of demonstrations. During the mass action activities along the streets, citizens are living in fear that they will be tear-gassed or shot at or raped and their properties looted. Millions are suffering because of the on-going drought in some parts of our Country. Our nurses and health workers have been on strike and patients are suffering across the nation, the state of the economy is worsening and remains unaddressed. We call for an end to this neglect and abandon of the lives and affairs of our people. As Catholic Bishops, this cannot continue to happen under our watch.”.
The Bishops launch appeals to President Kenyatta, to Raila Odinga, the main Opposition member, and to their respective coalitions, to continue on the path of national dialogue. Odinga has yet to officialise the withdrawal of his candidacy from the 26 October vote, out of protest for the failed agreement to a reshuffling of the independent election commission IEBC (see Fides 11/10/2017). A senior IEBC member, Roselyn Akombe, resigned today, 18 October, on the grounds that the Commission cannot guarantee a credible election on 26 October.
Calling to mind the recent consecration of Kenya to “God and Mary, our Mother”, the Bishops invite all the people to take up the “arms of prayer, good will and love of neighbour ” to guarantee peace for the country. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 18/10/2017)