AFRICA/KENYA - Elections and clashes; Bishops reveal: "Right to the end we tried to bring Kenyatta and Odinga to the negotiating table"

Thursday, 26 October 2017 elections   bishops   violence  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - Tension increases in Kenya where today fresh Presidential election are to be held after the Supreme Court had nullified the election of the President after the August 8 poll.
There were clashes in the ballot boxes of opposition leader Raila Odinga who decided to withdraw his candidacy and invited his supporters not to vote. However, some of them have decided to block the polling stations, preventing voters from entering. The police launched tear gas to disperse protesters who responded by throwing stones.
The most frequent clashes took place in Kisumu, in the west of the Country, and in the bidonville in Kibera in the capital, Nairobi.
On the eve of the vote, Kenya's religious leaders tried to bring outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta (who had won the August elections, then canceled) and Raila Odinga to the negotiating table. This is what was highlighted in the message of the Bishops of Kenya which was published yesterday, October 25, and sent to Agenzia Fides. "Up to yesterday (Oct. 24, ndr.) we were trying frantically to make H.E The President Uhuru Kenyatta and Honourable Raila Odinga to meet, and it was our hope that we could find a solution to the current political standoff", says the message.
Recalling the controversy on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC), accused by Odinga of not being impartial (and this is why he withdrew his candidacy), the Bishops say: "We have communicated and we want to remain on record that it would have been our wish that all the pertinent issues could have been resolved before the elections". Moreover, the Episcopal Conference believed that it would have been better to call off the election to allow the Commission to prepare for elections and above "to avoid dividing our Country further". "That notwithstanding, the 26th October elections are now scheduled to go on", the Bishops say, calling on President Uhuru and Honourable Raila, to put first the interest of the Country before their own hardened positions". The Bishops also appeal to all Kenyans to respect each other and pursue peace.
"Kenyans, we are in a very difficult moment and yet we must rise above the ethnic and political drums of conflict. Let us embrace dialogue in all our undertaking including political responsibility to steer the Country forward. Once more we urge all citizens to join us to intensely pray for our Country", they conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 26/10/2017)