By Rose Achiego Ande (The Catholic Mirror)
Religious Leaders gathered at Ufungamano House, Nairobi, on 14th March 2023, have called on the Opposition Leader Rt. Hon Raila Odinga to reconsider the proposed mass action programme and instead embrace dialogue and other peaceful approaches that do not threaten the lives and livelihood of Kenyans.
The leaders led by the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa Most Rev. Martin Kivuva urged Raila to become a bastion of proposing viable solutions to ameliorate the immense suffering Kenyans are experiencing.
“Under the leadership of the opposition leader, Rt Hon Raila Odinga, the political opposition in the country is playing its role of holding the government to account, This is a cardinal role that is core to the sustenance of democracy, constitutionalism, and respect for rule of law. We now urge you to spearhead issue-based solution-oriented approach to politics to avoid being seen as champions of anarchy,” Religious Leaders said.
They also called on His Excellency President William Ruto to focus on solving the problems Kenyans are going through adding that, the nation is depending on him to give forward-looking rather than reverse-heading leadership. “Just as you accepted to spearhead an issue-based campaign before the elections, we urge you to spearhead solution-oriented politics and administration,” they said.
Religious Leaders called Ruto’s attention to ethnic and class-oriented divisions in the country. “As the symbol of National unity, we ask you to focus the nation’s attention on the oneness, equity, and equality of all Kenyans. It is of essence that you take leadership in reaching out to the opposition to promote dialogue for the betterment of the nation,” Religious Leaders said.
After conducting a review of the state of the nation six months after the 2022 General Elections, the Leaders said the challenges facing Kenya require national conversation, not adversarial politics expressing worry that the situation cannot hold for long hence the need for immediate action to rescue the nation from further deterioration.
“The people of Kenya are experiencing immense suffering trying to service multiple crises that are approaching disaster proportions. Famine and drought have ravaged the country, leading to the deaths of people and livestock. The steady rising of cost of living is pushing more Kenyans to abject poverty, with attendant desperation leading to increase in crime,” they said.
The Religious Leaders said that, despite Kenya having had peaceful elections and transition, political actors are working hard to incite politics-driven disillusionment and tension that is likely to result in anarchy. “The narratives being driven by the political actors are weakening the basic commitment and submission to the constitution and laws of Kenya, which is the fabric that binds us together as a nation,” he said.
They urged Kenyans to be committed to national cohesion and peaceful coexistence. “We need to firmly resist political and social leaders who drive divisions and bitterness and embrace those who focus on developing solutions for the challenges we are experiencing. In this regard, let each of us deliberately engage in all public participation forums and opportunities, taking every chance to influence policy and the decision-making process. We should not leave the destiny of our families in the hands of politicians alone and should instead adopt the mantra of “Nothing for us without us”.
The Leaders called upon all Kenyans to treasure and take opportunity to participate in governance and decision-making processes at all levels saying, they have a chance and mandate to ensure that all those in leadership at different levels focus on service delivery to make Kenyans lives better, in line with the prayer made in the National Anthem: O God of all creation, bless this our land and nation, justice be our shield and defender.
Last week, Odinga declared countrywide mass protests to force President William Ruto and his administration to address the high cost of living, engender electoral reforms and abandon dictatorial tactics. The massive procession is expected to take place in Nairobi on March 20 in a bid for a “legitimate and inclusive government.”
The statement was issued by the Hindu Council of Kenya, Inter Religious Council of Kenya, KCCB, National Council of Churches of Kenya, National Muslim Leaders Forum, Organisation of African Instituted Churches and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.