29 January 2016

Kenya: Government Succumbs, Withdraws Church Regulations

Nairobi — The government finally bowed to pressure and withdrew the proposed Religious Societies Rules following a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and a cross section of religious leaders on Thursday.

During the meeting held on Thursday, it was agreed that the proposed Societies (Religious Societies) Rules, 2015 should be immediately withdrawn.

"This will pave way for a process driven by the religious stakeholders with the participation of the government and the general public in structured consultation," a statement from State House indicated.

The agreement paved way for development of firm and fair regulations to ensure religious groups enjoy their freedom anchored on democratic principles provided in the Constitution.

"The government wishes to reassure all Kenyans that it remains steadfastly committed to do everything necessary to facilitate a free and open society conducive to a vibrant religious environment and remains committed to an open, transparent and accessible government where public participation and consideration of a broad range of views is paramount," State House said.

Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches had protested the government's proposal to regulate operations of religious groups in the country.

It had been proposed that, among other things, every pastor should have a minimum qualification of knowledge in theology.

Religious groups were as well agitated by a regulation requiring them to compile annual membership in their groups

Church branches were also required to file annual tax returns while the churches wanted them to be exempted.

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