KENYA: Church Calls for Consensus on Contentious Issues in BBI

By Njoki Githinji

NAIROBI, DECEMBER 11, 2020 (CISA) – The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has called for continued discussion on the contentious issues in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) so that an agreement can be reached among stakeholders ahead of the referendum.

“We propose a continued focus on consensus building to bring everyone on board. This is important as citizens of one country who want to approach the referendum united and soberly even though we might have different positions,” they said in a December 9 press conference led by Archbishop Philip Anyolo, Chairman of KCCB and ordinary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kisumu.

“The referendum process has fast evolved. The focus now is on how County Assemblies will read, interpret and vote on the Bill. The collection of the signatures is complete and verification by IEBC is underway. The referendum outcome is too important for the future of our country,” they said.

Calling for civic education on contents of the Amendment Bill, the bishops noted the importance of citizens making informed decisions on matters that affect the governance of the country.

“Every Kenyan needs to be well aware of the Amendment Bill content so as to make an informed decision at the ballot. The question we all should ask is this: how best do we carry forward the referendum process without injuring the reputation of our country as a democratic state where difference in political orientation does not result into ethnic hatred, hate speech and all forms of discrimination?,” they said.

The prelates noted that constructive dialogue is needed to address the doctors’ strike as the country continues to battle Covid-19.

“We regret that the tension between the government and the doctors will not be resolved through arm twisting from both parties…There is need for a constructive dialogue. We see that medical doctors and nurses have not been listened to with an open mind…the cry of the doctors, nurses and support staff, some of whom stand on the frontline as is the case with the fight against the coronavirus spread, is hardly listened to,” they said.

As schools prepare to resume in person learning in January 2021, the bishops observed the poor capacity of some schools to safely resume in-person learning while adhering to Covid-19 protocols.

They called for doubled up effort to keep students safe.

“We are cautiously happy that schools reopen in January. We say cautiously happy because we know that not all schools have the capacities to adequately prepare for the reopening in compliance of the Covid-19 protocols. The governments, County and National, have made promises to ensure schools reopen in risk-free learning environment. The efforts being made to achieve this goal have to be doubled so that no child is exposed to risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus,” they said.

The statement read by Archbishop Anyolo was signed by all members of KCCB.