Friday the 16th of April

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Kenyans pray for peace ahead of the polls

CAFOD has called for a peaceful election when Kenyans go to the polls on 8th August.

Catherine Ogolla, CAFOD’s Country Representative, based in Nairobi said: “The Kenyan people need a sustained commitment to peace, democracy and good governance which can only be achieved through peaceful and transparent elections.

“These are no ordinary elections; the world is watching and, we cannot afford for the social fabric of Kenyan society to be ripped apart again by violence.”

Kenya was crippled by post-election violence in 2007-08 when the results were contested and violence spilled out on to the streets. According to the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, the violence led to more than 600,000 people being made homeless; and more than 1,100 killed.

The north of the country is currently facing a devastating drought; due to three consecutive seasons of insufficient rains which have led to complete decimation of livestock, leaving more than 2.6 million people, struggling to feed themselves. CAFOD’s local aid workers in Isiolo and Marsabit are responding to the needs of people with emergency food, clean water and healthcare. However, they are concerned that any election violence will hamper their emergency aid efforts.

“Many families are making do with one meal a day,” said Catherine Ogolla, “Our local aid workers are working around the clock to ensure that communities have the emergency aid they need before and after the elections.

“At the same time, we are rebuilding the resilience of communities, so that they can better cope in future droughts. Any violence can undermine this vital work.”

CAFOD’s partner, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a pastoral letter issued on 28th July 2017, urged politicians to refrain from ‘hate speech’ and for Kenyans to resist and reject any form of incitement, saying: ‘We note with appreciation, the relatively peaceful manner in which campaigns have been conducted. We urge all the candidates to continue conducting themselves with decorum and sobriety the remaining stretch of the campaigns, in order to achieve cohesion and National integration.

‘We appeal to the youth to restrain themselves from violence and instead be the agents of peace.

‘We appeal to the entire country to accord IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) all the support it needs to discharge its constitutional mandate. On their part, we ask the IEBC to see to it that they secure Just, Fair, Transparent, Credible and Peaceful Elections.’

Kenyans will be heading to the polls to elect a President, County Governor, Senator, Member of Parliament, Woman Representative, and Member of County Assembly. The two front runners for the Presidency are the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta and the country’s former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who also ran in 2013 against Kenyatta.

Picture: Caritas Marsabit delivers food aid in Bubisa. (David Mutua/CAFOD).