NEWS: Prayers offered for peaceful Kenyan election results
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Charities CAFOD and Caritas continued to call for prayers for peace as the count got underway following the Kenyan presidential elections on 4th March.
“My hope, and that of fellow Kenyans, is that by the end of today (March 6th), final results will have been declared, they are accepted by all parties, and the country remains peaceful. We continue to pray for peace,” stated Joseph Kabiru, CAFOD’s Media and Communications Officer for the East and Horn of Africa.
There was violence during the actual elections when at least 17 people, including nine police officers, were killed in two separate attacks in the district of Changamwe, on the outskirts of the nearby town of Mombasa and Kilifi. It is hoped that the country will not facing a repeat of 2007, when there was chaos and violence following delays in releasing presidential election results.
Joseph Kabiru said on Vatican Radio that the Church has been using its voice to promote free and fair elections. “The Catholic Church in Kenya has been a very powerful voice when it comes to messages of peace. It has been working in various parts of the country and Cafod has been supporting the Bishops’ Conference on its civic education programmes around the country”.
They have encouraged people to take part in the electoral process and also prayed at their parishes’ Sunday masses that the vote would not become too polarized along ethnic lines.
The Catholic Church also contributed to ensuring there was free and fair elections by offering observers. Among them were 30 people sent from AMECEA (Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa) which includes: Uganda, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia, Sudan and South Sudan. Observers included clergy, religious men and women, and the laity and a team of Catholic scholars from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, based at Langata, Nairobi.
The Catholic Bishops have also called for calm. “Choose peace for our beloved Kenya, before, during and after the general election. We can only do that by transcending our ethnic affiliations, voting good leaders capable of serving people without discrimination, and rejecting all forms of pre and post election violence," said Archbishop Boniface Lele, Archbishop of Mombasa, in a statement.
Archbishop Lele has in particular stressed the need to overcome ethnic divisions and accept the winner despite the ethnic community they come from: "Our Nation belongs to all the diverse ethnic communities found in the same land and whoever emerges the winner after the General Election should be accepted and respected by all as the choice of majority Kenyans."
Archbishop Lele finally pointed out that any post-election dispute must be resolved through the judicial system, without resorting to violence. "Political violence cannot resolve election disputes and neither can it be justified under any circumstance," the Archbishop of Mombasa told Agenzia Fides.
Two contenders, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, were neck in neck for much of the count.