Kenya: Bishops Criticize Concluded Party Nominations

Photo: Chrispinus Wekesa
A voter during party nominations (file photo).

Nairobi — Catholic Bishops have criticized the recently-held party primaries that were filled with chaos and malpractice. This they termed as alarming with only six weeks remaining before the General Elections, scheduled for March 4.

"We have watched in disbelief as political parties conducted their primaries in utter disregard for the rule of law and the tenets of democracy," said the Bishops in a press statement on Thursday January 24.

The statement, issued at the end of the Bishop's permanent Council meeting, held at Saint Joseph's Centre, Karen near Nairobi was read by John Cardinal Njue, assisted by Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu Archdiocese and current Chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Justice and Peace.

"We witnessed incidences of chaos, voter bribery, planned rigging, nepotism and total disregard to people's democratic rights," said the Bishops.

Reports of rigging, intimidation of opponents and total disregard for political party manifestoes were very worrying and recipe for conflict, stated the Bishops.

"What is more distressing is that this has happened despite a new Constitution, reformed electoral body, new political party guidelines and a reformed judiciary," they pointed out.

"It was regrettable that parties which have spent several weeks preaching to Kenyans about democracy and rule of law have once again confirmed that this is mere lip service," said the Bishops, adding, "This leads us to ask , if party primaries can raise so much heat, what will happen during the March 4 General Elections?.

They observed that the recent storming of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) offices by dissatisfied candidates was unbelievable.

They recommended that all candidates for electoral positions to commit publicly to respect election rules, campaign peacefully and contest the results through legal, non-violent means.

The IEBC should defend the Constitution fearlessly and exert its authority, the Bishops recommended.

They urged politicians to stop ignoring rules, exploiting grievances and stoking divisions through ethnic campaigning, voter bribery and the use of innocent youth to cause mayhem.

The judiciary, the Bishops stressed should give timely guidance to clear doubt on contentious issues and dispute resolution mechanism to assure the country that any such disputes arising will be handled expeditiously.

"We call on the Inspector General of Police to put in place clear security plans especially in the vulnerable counties and deploy security personnel accordingly," said the Bishops.

They concluded by urging Kenyans to be peace loving people, promote peace and vote wisely according to informed and formed conscience.

The Bishops' statement was titled: "Towards the March 4th General Elections - A New Spirit, A New Heart."

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