Churches call for fresh poll – Inter-Religious Forum

Churches call for fresh poll

Kenyan religious leaders have called for a fresh general election as the only way out of the current political crisis. The leaders who comprised Christians, Muslims and Hindus also proposed the resignation of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) to pave way for its reconstitution. Speaking under the auspices of the Inter-Religious Forum at the Ufungamano House in Nairobi, the leaders reiterated their proposal to President Kibaki that wide consultations be made within the political parties regarding appointment of ECK commissioners to ensure the new body is credible.

Great wisdom “We recommend that the 2007 general election be annulled, and new elections held within the shortest time possible,” they said in a statement, adding: “We recognise that this proposal has immense implications but see great wisdom in taking it as the best option.” In what they termed as Kenya’s tough choices, the leaders raised several concerns regarding the ongoing Kofi Annan mediation talks.

The statement was read in turns by four different representatives, including the general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Rev Canon Peter Karanja. Others were Bishop Bonifes Adoyo of the Evangelical Church, Fr John Young Lenssen for the Catholic Church and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) director general, Mr Abdulatif Shaban.

In their proposal for fresh elections, the religious leaders also want the dismissal of all returning officers and the vetting of new ones who would be recruited for their integrity.

They said thousands of people were uprooted from their homes countrywide and lost their identity cards and voters’ cards. “We want the government to revisit the voters’ register to enable the IDPs to vote from where they are. Some of them lost their voting documents, which must be re-issued before that exercise kicks off.” Canon Karanja said although religious leaders have faith in the mediation talks, they sensed lack of goodwill by both parties, which they accused of fighting for personal interests.

They raised their concern that with the current situation where each side is fighting for its interests, the underlying issues that caused the current crisis may fail to be addressed. Some of those issues include a comprehensive review of the constitution, resolution of land ownership and use, and national healing and reconciliation.

“In considering the future of this nation, and what would emerge from the mediation process, we foresee three possible scenarios,” said the statement.

The first scenario would see both parties combine support in Parliament to pass laws that facilitate their own political interests.

Should the talks take too long to reach an agreement, the leaders warn that ODM could try to use Parliament to frustrate government efforts. And should the talks fail, a new cycle of violence would erupt, the international community would impose sanctions on Kenya and businesses would be forced to relocate to safer countries.
Daily Nation


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