Kenyans have been asked to be wary of leaders who speak of peaceful election but their actions don’t match their words.
The Catholic Church has observed that there is a great potential to plunge the country back into violence like they were witnessed in 2007/08, if political players do not respect the law.
Speaking under the auspices of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said it will engage with all players in the electoral process to pursue peaceful and credible polls.
“Let us move beyond merely observing elections to supporting dialogue and appropriate reforms. We are already witnessing inciting statements that can lead to violence,” Bishop Alfred Rotich, the chairman, Commission for Ecumenism.
KCCB has organised a nationwide campaign to ensure peaceful and credible elections that will be launched at the University of Nairobi grounds on February 25 under the theme, “ Peaceful and credible elections, leaders of integrity.”
During the 40 days of prayer and reflection which will end at Easter, the Church will call upon Kenyans to be responsible citizens by voting for responsible leaders of integrity.
“Kenyans must now vote for leaders not because of their ethnicity or wealth but elect leaders of integrity who uphold ethical values. We need responsible leaders who will deliver what they promise,” Bishop Rotich said during a meeting with editors in Nairobi.
Countywide activities will include civic education, pace building through formation of local peace communities and appointment of neutral election observers in virtually all polling stations countrywide.
Bishop Rotich observed that fears of being sidelined due to one’s ethnicity are to blame for the increase tribal nature of Kenyan politics.
“Let us drive out negative ethnicity. Ethnicity hangs around voters due to fear of violence and feel secure supporting a leader on the basis of tribe as opposed to what he stands for,” he said.
Bishop Rotich said priests were under clear instructions to be neutral and desist from supporting any political party or politicians seeking public office.
He said money being collected in churches must be for offerings and tithes and not for political expediency.
Mr Cyprian Nyamwamu, a governance advisor said the religious leaders are aware that a peaceful election is a product of a credible election and had identified risks associated with elections.
He cited possibilities of technological failure, political pressure on the electoral agency officials to deliver a credible poll, fears of shambolic nominations and voter registration challenges as some of the real concerns that must be tackled.
The church, he noted is the first contact where people seek help when violence erupts and it was important for the religious leaders to work towards prevention of violence.
The Editors Guild chairman Linus Kaikai challenged religious leaders from all churches to speak without fear about the evils in society.