Call to Peace and Political Justice – NCCK – 3 Jan 08

Call to Peace and Political Justice
Thursday, January 03, 2008 by Communications

Press Statement

Call to Peace and Political Justice

1.0 Preamble

The National Council of Churches of Kenya, in our statement of 23rd November 2007, encouraged all registered voters in Kenya to participate in the General Elections to be held on 27th December 2007.

And on the ballot day, there was an enthusiastic participation in the elections by people of all ages, most notable being the youth who have had little interest in elections in the past. They cast their ballots in a largely peaceful environment. However, delays in announcement of the results of the presidential election led to an escalation of tension, anxiety and outbreak of street demonstrations.

Since the announcement of President Kibaki as winner, an orgy of violence has been seen in many parts of the country as some people expressed their feeling that the elections were not free and fair. Within the last week, nearly 300 people have been killed, and 50,000 families rendered homeless. Our estimate of the number of displaced Kenyans totals around 200,000. Scores of women, girls and boys have been sexually assaulted. Property worth billions of Shillings has been destroyed and hundreds of businesses crippled in the looting and burning sprees by demonstrating mobs.

Most of the violence has been targeted at the Kikuyu, Kisii and a few other communities perceived to be PNU supporters. It smirks of a well planned, financed and executed ethnic cleansing which threatens to turn into a full scale genocide. That more people have been killed and displaced in the North Rift region goes to confirm this, with the understanding that more members of the Kikuyu community had settled there than in the Nyanza region.

It is worth noting that no convincing effort has been made by politicians from the aggressive communities to stop the killings, looting and destruction. In their complicity in the face of a crisis of this magnitude, they can only be perceived to be in the know of the genesis and execution of the violence.

In the meantime, the country is in paralysis. Social networks have been severely wounded; neighbours are on each others’ necks; transportation has ground to a halt; families are going without essential supplies; businesses and factories have virtually shut down; and the rights of Kenyans are being violated even more.

2.0 Burning of Churches
Even respect for and fear of God has been lost among some of our people.

The internally displaced people have taken refuge in police stations and churches. NCCK condemns the incident of burning alive of people sheltered in the Kenya Assemblies of God church in Eldoret on 1st January 2008. We equally condemn the burning of Redeemed Gospel Church in Kapsabet and the Miracles Assemblies of God church in Huruma. Such sacrilegious acts not only profane holy places of worship but also invoke the wrath of God against the actual perpetrators and indeed the whole nation. We call upon the people of Kenya to respect all places of worship and help reconstruct the destroyed churches.

3.0 Humanitarian Crisis
The displaced persons are now crowded in police stations and churches exposing them to communicable diseases and the elements. They have little or no access to basic needs such as food, water and medicine. Sanitation is poor, and the outbreak of diseases imminent. This is in addition to the continued risk of further attacks as was evidenced by the burning alive of people at the Kenya Assemblies of God church in Eldoret.

We appeal to the government and all well wishers to respond humanely to this crisis and provide the needed support.

4.0 Ethnic Cleansing
As noted earlier, the pattern of violence seen is reflective of ethnic cleansing. This is consistent with the ethnic clashes experienced just before the elections of 1992, 1997 and 2002. But the scale of violence and its spread shows that it is quickly getting to crisis propotions.

NCCK condemns this practice and considers it deplorable and unacceptable. As we have said in our past statements, all communities in Kenya have a right to exist, and no one can wish the other away. This horrid eventuality reverses years of peaceful coexistence between members of different communities. It also negates the gains made in the healing and reconciliation that has been undertaken following the ethnic clashes between the Kalenjin, Kikuyu, Luhya and Kisii communities of the 1990s.

5.0 Urgent Measures Proposed by NCCK
We wish to call upon President Kibaki and the government to:
a) Immediately restore peace and order in all parts of the country. You hold the instruments of state, and Kenyans cannot accept any excuses on why the government would allow any more Kenyans to be killed.
b) Reach out and ensure an environment of trust for dialogue among all competing political actors.
c) Provide security and facilitate community and religious leaders who need to meet to attend peace and reconciliation meetings.
d) Provide security and logistical support to agencies providing relief supplies to the displaced persons.
e) Evacuate the persons at risk from the violence-prone areas to safer places.
f) Establish a competent information, coordination and rapid response centre where individuals can call in to report threats and incidences of violence. The contacts for this centre should be widely publicized.

We further call upon Hon. Raila and the ODM leadership to:
a) Physically visit and hold meetings in the clash areas, and also use the media and all avenues possible to stop their supporters from further acts of violence and ethnic cleansing.
b) Actively engage in dialogue with the leaders of other political parties and the government to resolve the current political crisis.
c) Demonstrate your commitment to the rule of law by accepting and acting according to it.
d) Appreciate that the 300 dead Kenyans, the 200,000 displaced persons, the investors and traders whose homes, businesses and properties have been destroyed have equal rights. These are the people whose support you need as you pursue justice and if you became President, the ones you aspire to lead.

For all Kenyans, to fast-track our path to restoration of peace:
a) We urge communities to desist from attacking each other. Let us coexist peacefully as we did before.
b) We urge community leaders from the affected communities to meet and resolve any underlying causes of violence that have remained unaddressed. We appreciate that the political standoff was just an excuse to let out tensions that were already there.
c) We urge religious leaders at the local level to continually speak about peace to their people. Such leaders have the duty of restraining their followers when the latter are provoked to engage in violence.
d) We call upon the community leaders among the targeted communities to restrain their people from engaging in retaliatory attacks, as these will only make the situation worse.
e) We persuade all players to have the humility and grace to explore an inclusive approach to this crisis where everyone is a winner and the nation is upheld.

6.0 Uncertainty Over Election Results
We recognize that the violence was sparked by uncertainty regarding the results of the 2007 General Elections. Regrettably, results of the presidential elections have not been agreed upon to have been fair. Our people feel that justice was not done. The concerns raised by various actors regarding the counting and tallying of the polling station results should be urgently addressed.

The proposal for mediated dialogue between the opponents should be fast tracked and honoured by all parties.

The international community and all Kenyans of good will should ensure that mediation is carried out when the nation has peace and ordinary Kenyans can conduct their lives in a normal way.

In pursuit of peace, we must yet bear in mind the need to get to the truth over the results of the elections and ensure that justice is done. For people to regain confidence in our democratic system, truth and justice are paramount. Whether a candidate wins or loses, they want to do so fairly.

7.0 Conclusion
We conclude by reminding all of us of the priority for restoration of peace in the nation. As NCCK, we have great faith in Kenya and the resilience of all its people. We believe that with the necessary will, we should emerge from the current situation a greater nation.

Let us all defend the integrity of our nation, and not sacrifice it for any short term gain by any person or vested interest.

Signed on this 3rd day of January 2008 at Jumuia Place, Nairobi.
Rt Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala
Chairman

Rev Canon Peter Karanja
General Secretary

Source: http://www.ncck.org/info_center/itemsview.asp?secid=1&itemid=117

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