Capital FM (Nairobi)

9 February 2013

Kenya: Catholics Preach Peace As Poll Approaches

The Catholic Church in Kenya on Saturday launched a Lenten campaign dedicated to praying for peace as Kenya prepares to hold the general election in 22 days.

In a special national prayer day, Nairobi Archbishop John Cardinal Njue called on Kenyans to observe peace and unity to ensure a smooth transition to the next government.

"We therefore call upon you today to be instruments of peace. We remind you that peace is a divine gift which we cannot afford to lose. Our stable economic, social and religious well-being will always depend on the prevailing peace," he asserted in his homily.

He appealed to Kenyans to also exercise their democratic right of electing leaders of their choice but at the same time to shun tribalism.

Cardinal Njue further urged all candidates seeking elective posts to ask for votes peacefully and lawfully in support of a democratic process intended to improve governance in the country.

"We remind our brothers and sisters that the principles of democracy, respect for human life and one another are vital for the preservation of peace before, during and after the general election," he advised.

He also urged them to be ready to accept the outcome of the results which will be conducted by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that has already earned some degree of public confidence.

However, if candidates will have any disagreements, he urged them to explore the judicial process since the courts are well prepared to deal with election disputes.

"Be content with what you freely and fairly get. In the event of dissatisfaction, let us seek justice through the legitimate court process to avoid threatening the peace and wellbeing of Kenyans," he said.

In his message to Kenyans, he cautioned against careless utterances and behaviours witnessed in the run up to the 2007 general election and urged people to be careful that the same mistakes are not repeated in the March 4 elections.

Kisumu Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth also announced that the catholic leadership will remain neutral and will not support any political side in support of unity as the country holds the elections.

He urged people to value the country more than politics. "Elections come and go, but Kenya will live forever, let us think of this as we go to elect leaders."

During the launch at the Nyayo Stadium, the catholic faithful who begin lent on Wednesday agreed to dedicate all the five weeks to praying for Kenya to hold peaceful election and have a smooth transition.

The Lenten period starts with Ash Wednesday, which reminds Catholics that they came from ashes and they will return to ashes. It involves 40 days of prayer and fasting.

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