KENYA: Religious Leaders Support Bipartisan Discourse on Solving ‘Longstanding Issues’ in Country

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, APRIL 4, 2023 (CISA)– Religious leaders have called for open and truthful consultations pegged on addressing the longstanding issues affecting Kenyans while welcoming the truce between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s acceptance to hold talks and resolve the political impasse, which has seen the country experience two weeks of demonstrations.

“To move the nation forward, we now urge the leadership of all political parties in Parliament to fast track the formation of the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee to carry out the necessary consultations to set the framework to address the issues of concern,” reads a statement issued by the religious leaders on April 4.

On April 3, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga heeded calls by President Ruto for an end to mass actions and to give dialogue a chance.

The president had said in an April 2 press briefing that “In view of the recent events that led to the loss of lives and property in the demonstrations, I urge my brother Raila Odinga and the opposition to call off the demonstrations and to give this bi-partisan approach a chance for us to take the country forward.”

As the initial consultations between the two opposing sides in parliament begin, the clerics appealed for the consultations to be open, in good faith and truth.

“It is unfortunate that so much blood of Kenyans had to be shed and so many properties destroyed before the voice of reason prevailed,” the religious leaders lamented while admonishing political leaders to be focused on the welfare of the people and not their vested interests.

In their statement, the religious leaders also called on the security agencies and specialized state institutions to undertake speedy investigations on all acts of crime and have the perpetrators answer for their actions.

“…we share our deep condolences with all families that were bereaved by the deaths that occurred during the days of mass action. We pray that God will grant you consolation and peace. We are also praying for speedy healing and recovery for all those who were injured, who were robbed, and all those who lost their possessions and businesses,” they said.

The joint statement by religious leaders followed a meeting by representatives of various religious groups and partners at Ufungamano House in Nairobi to review the state of the nation. The meeting brought together the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), the Independent Medico-Legal Unit, the Elections Observation Group and the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights.