Nairobi, Kenya — The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has backed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for announcing the election date.
In a statement, the NCCK lauded the IEBC saying the move has helped create certainty and reduce anxiety.
The statement which was issued at the end of a three-day retreat in Nakuru called upon the IEBC to conduct its affairs in a transparent and accountable manner and resist pressure from politicians.
The clergy called on all Kenyans to demonstrate respect for the rule of law and institutions tasked with electoral process.
"The credibility of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is a critical element of the confidence Kenyans will have in the electoral process. We are encouraged by the plan of action which has been put in place by the IEBC to ensure a free and fair election," the statement said.
The church leaders want the IEBC to prioritise civic and voter education and partner with credible institutions.
They further urged the two principals to conclude their Grand Coalition Government peacefully by facilitating an enabling environment for peaceful and secure general elections and transition.
"At a time of great national emotion, party and vested interests must not be pursued at the expense of holding the nation together and giving the new dispensation a good start. We call on the principals to address the high cost of living that continues to escalate," the NCCK communiqué read.
The NCCK also called upon all other actors in the election process to contribute towards making the general elections peaceful and the subsequent transition smooth.
According to the NCCK, the violence that followed the 2007 general election was as a result of a reckless politicians and an inept election management institution.
The situation, according to the NCCK, is not being made better by politicians who are leading the country along the same path of violence through hate speech, ethnic mobilisation, grand standing and more recently demonisation of constitutional institutions.
"We call upon all political leaders and candidates to solicit for support peacefully. We urge you to avoid use of hate speech, ethnic mobilisation and grandstanding in your search for votes. You should refrain from instilling fear and anxiety in your constituencies and sell your vision and mission instead. We especially call upon the religious leaders to promote peace, love and unity among all Kenyan," the statement said.
The announcement of the election date two weeks ago has sparked heated debate among both those in support and those opposed of the date.
Among those opposed to the date are Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his party ODM who have made it clear that they preferred the elections to be held in December.
Odinga has maintained that elections in March would be a cumbersome affair as schools will be open, farmers will be in the fields and it will extend the life of the current Parliament and coalition government.
On Tuesday the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) also opposed the March 4, 2013 date saying it will disrupt the country's budgetary cycle.
CRA chairman Micah Cheserem said that the incoming national and county governments would be unable to own the 2013/2014 Budget process as it will be underway before they assume office.