AFRICA/KENYA - Bishops launch a National Dialogue Forum while the political crisis risks making the country explode

Friday, 10 November 2017 bishops   elections   dialogue  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "The Country is now threatened with disintegration and conflict, if the situation witnessed currently is anything to go by. This is why we have announced to organize a National Dialogue Forum, with the aim of bringing all sectors of the Kenyan society together and find a way out". This is what the Bishops of Kenya announced in the statement published at the end of their plenary assembly which concluded on November 9 in Nakuru.
The political and social situation in the country remains tense after the controversial presidential elections of October 26, won by outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta but boycotted by opposition candidate Raila Odinga. Odinga launched an appeal to civil disobedience while some human rights activists appealed to the Supreme Court to invalidate the vote. The August 8 vote had already been invalidated by the Supreme Court due to Odinga's appeal, forcing voters to return to the polls on October 26th.
"We are witnessing a nation divided down the middle on political and ethnic lines", the Bishops say. According to local press reports, secessionist movements on the coast are re-emerging, promised by the Governor of Mombasa, Hassan Joho, Kilifi, Amason Kingi and a few elected opposition members.
The Bishops also complain about "the violence and police brutality reported in various parts of the country" and criticize the "political leaders have polarized the Country even more, with an attitude of chest thumbing and grandstanding". "We have heard clarion calls for secession and civil disobedience, demonstrations and protests and boycotts which are only increasing tensions. A few months ago we hoped for elections that would unite Kenya, but we are witnessing elections that have widened the division". "Anybody who loves this country can see the inequality in the distribution of the resources we have, the lack of political will, to economically pull up those regions of our Country bedeviled by extreme poverty; the looting of public resources meant for the poor and for development of the Country; the manipulation of the population by some politicians and the radicalization of politics. All these underlying issues and more are taking our country into dangerous waters of intolerance and anger that could destroy us all", they stress in their message.
"We know many Kenyans are on the brink of losing hope and living in despair. We wish to assure you, dear Kenyans that we understand your concerns and anxieties. There is still hope for Kenya!", say the Bishops.
"Therefore, we the Catholic Bishops, having analyzed and reflected on the entire situation that has unfolded in Kenya, have resolved to organize a National Dialogue Forum, with the aim of bringing all sectors of the Kenyan society together, to look at the true picture of our Country and set the agenda for true discussion and resolutions", says the message. "Irrespective of the outcome of the Supreme Court decision of the petition, and any evolvement of the political situation, we are convinced that this National Dialogue Forum is necessary", the Bishops underline. The points suggested are: transparency and accountability; poverty, unemployment, economic inequality, conflict resolutions and injustices. "We believe, this Forum shall offer opportunity to all Kenyans and especially the key political players to engage constructively in a bid to chart the way forward for Kenya". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 10/11/2017)