Kenyan bishops urge politicians to participate in pre-election dialogue

| Francis Njuguna | October 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

Demonstrators from a civil society group hold a banner Sept. 13 in Nairobi, Kenya, as they call for the prosecution of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission commissioners and over the August presidential election. CNS photo/Baz Ratner, Reuters

Kenya’s bishops called on opposing parties to agree to dialogue to ensure a free and fair presidential election Oct. 26.

Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the Aug. 8 election because of irregularities, and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission invited the parties to the dialogue.

The bishops called upon the involved political parties Jubilee of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the National Super Alliance of Raila Odinga to “urgently agree to IEBC’s invitation to dialogue and chart the way forward with the aim of holding free, fair and credible presidential elections.” In nullifying the election, the Supreme Court said it had not found any deliberate rigging of results, but it did express concern that the IEBC did not open its computer servers to the court.

“The dialogue will pre-empt imminent conflict and violence that is being fanned and organized by both Jubilee and NASA politicians,” the bishops said in a statement read at a Sept. 26 news conference.

“We have examined the current environment and have concluded that, unless we embrace dialogue and reason together and agree on common national steps” for effective governance, ” the risk of plunging into full-blown conflict and a collapsing economy is real, and should therefore be avoided at all costs,” the bishops said.

They urged Kenyatta to be a symbol of national unity and offer needed leadership.

“We also called on all Kenyans and people of good will to restrain themselves from engaging in violent demonstrations, name-calling, hate speech and threats, which can only heighten the tension around elections,” they said.

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