25 September 2017

Kenya: Religious Leaders Attempt to Solve Election Issue

Religious leaders have initiated plans to bring Jubilee and the National Super Alliance to the negotiating table in an attempt to avert a situation that could undermine the October 26 presidential poll rerun.

Nasa has called for street protests on Tuesday to force out some Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officers it accuses of bungling the August 8 election, which has since been nullified by the Supreme Court.

Buoyed by the ruling, Nasa leaders have in recent days ratchetted up demands for reforms at the IEBC.

PROTESTS

Jubilee, which accuses the court of stealing its victory, has nevertheless insisted that IEBC manages the election as ordered by the judges, dismissing Nasa's demands as excuses meant to ensure the poll does not take place.

The Nation has learnt that the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops thinks taking to the streets is a danger to the election.

The clergy believe the standoff has reached intolerable levels and could lead to a constitutional crisis and violence.

DIALOGUE

Bishop Alfred Rotich on Monday said there were consultations on how to engage and facilitate dialogue among the main political players, but added that the efforts were in the initial stages.

"The bishops have travelled to Nairobi to discuss the situation in the country. We want to seek a solution to the problem. When you are unwell, you go to a doctor," Bishop Rotich said.

He added that the problem confronting the country has a national character and a solution that can only be found if Kenyans go to the negotiating table.

The bishop asked the main political actors to desist from emotional outbursts.

SOLUTION

The Catholic clergy started assembling at an undisclosed place in the capital.

"We have had consultations at individual level as bishops. We are thinking and setting the agenda for the discussion," he said.

"We are assembling in order to consolidate these efforts, discern the issues at hand and provide the pathway on the way forward. We want to discuss how to engage our friends in politics."

Within the National Council of Churches of Kenya, consultations on how to respond to the crisis have been ongoing for days and a statement could be made by General Secretary Peter Karanja as early as Tuesday.

"The consultations have been informed by the reality that it is no longer wise to keep on talking without a permanent solution to the crisis being found," he said.

LEADERS

Cannon Karanja said he would convened the NCCK's Programme Committee next week to discuss the situation in the country and give solutions.

The committee brings together the NCCK chairman, vice chairman, general secretary and heads of the 29 churches that form the organisation.

Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Organising Secretary Mohammed Khalifa also confirmed the development but refused to divulge details.

"That idea has informally been placed on the table. That is all I can say for now," Sheikh Khalifa said.

PARTIES

A similar effort is being pushed by the Supreme Council for Kenyan Muslims.

A source who didn't want to be quoted confirmed a meeting was being organised by the Inter religious council to bring the political parties and IEBC together.

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