Religious leaders from different faiths in Kenya have urged security agencies to enforce security coverage for all Kenyans noting that the strongest threat to credible, peaceful, free and fair elections is the compromise of peace and security.
Expressing worries at the rising number of violent attacks on citizens in different parts of the country such as the recent terror attacks in Lamu and bandit attacks in Baringo and Laikipia, the leaders urged the security agencies to firmly deal with the perpetrators of any breaches.
“We are convinced that these attacks, though masquerading as terrorism or banditry, may actually be orchestrated criminality aimed at displacing populations so that they don’t participate in the 2017 General Elections”, said the religious leaders in their press statement
They urged the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to clamp down on all individuals who are perpetrating hate speech and incitement to violence, “even where it is sugar-coated in parables and similes”.
The religious leaders noted that the primary factor that would cause conflict during and after the elections is the credibility and called upon stakeholders to ensure credible elections.
The leaders urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to publish the voters register, as required by the constitution, and noted that the longer the commission takes before publishing the register, the more the doubts are cast on its credibility.
They further called on the electoral body to test and ensure the integrity of the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System to assure Kenyans that history will not repeat itself.
“We are constantly reminded that the primary cause of discord after the 2007 General Elections was the delay in the announcement of the results of the presidential poll. The collapse of the results transmission system in 2013 was a crucial factor during the resultant petition”, they noted.
The religious leaders urged all Kenyans not to vote for any candidate who incites their followers into violence. “Anyone seeking to offer elective leadership must be held to account to respect and uphold the rights of all Kenyans especially those who do not support them”.
The press statement was signed by Bishop Cornelius Korir, Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Justice and Peace Commission; Rev. Peter Karanja of the National Council of Churches of Kenya; Bishop Dr. John Warari of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya; Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims; Nitin Malde of the Hindu Council of Kenya; Pastor Festus Njagi of the Seventh Day Adventist and Rev. Joseph Mutie of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches.
On the 8th August, Kenyans will vote for president, county governors, members of the Senate, representatives of the National Assembly, including women county representatives to the National Assembly, and members of county assemblies.
These elections will be the country’s fifth set of elections since the end of the one-party state in 1991, and the second set of elections under the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. Three of the previous four elections were marred by violence, including the 2007-2008 elections when over 1,000 people were killed and 650,000 displaced.
President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga are widely expected to secure a majority of votes for the presidential race.