The Anglican Church of Kenya House of Bishops, Senior staff, Anglican Development Services Kenya (ADS-K) board representatives and staff met at the Imani Guest House and Conference Centre, Nakuru from 5th to 7th February 2013. The meeting was convened as a consultation and reflection on healing and reconciliation as we analyze and pray over the state of our beloved Nation as we approach the 4th March 2013 General elections. We also re-launched and rebranded our social ministry which shall now be known as Anglican Development Services – Kenya (ADS-K)
The words of Isaiah 60:1 inspire us at this moment.
"Arise and shine for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you."
We are to arise and take our positions in this historic and glorious moment! This is the generation that will witness the rebirth of our nation as we go to the polls for the first time under the current constitutional architecture. While in the past electoral seasons have been characterized by animosity, tensions and violence as happened in a grand scale in 2007/2008, we exhort Kenyans to seize the moment and do it differently this time; (shun violence). Let us remember that our beloved nation is for us and the generations to come, our heritage from God.
We have a responsibility to build a stable, prosperous and godly nation for ourselves and for those who will come after us, otherwise, history will judge this generation harshly.
We wish to speak to the nation on the following issues:
1. A CALL TO PRAYER
We are in a decisive moment that will lay foundations for the future. We cannot conduct peaceful campaigns and elections without divine intervention. This is a call to fervent, concerted prayer for our nation, her potential leaders and citizens.
Let us repent for actions that have sowed seeds of discord and divided us. Kenyans need to pray for healing and reconciliation in order to overcome the lingering bitterness from past violence. Let all Kenyans pray for peace, unity and tolerance. To this end the ACK has set apart the week from 18th to 24th February 2013 for corporate prayer for the nation. These prayers will be held in every parish and congregation.
We acknowledge that all authority comes from God. A good leader is one who understands his/her vision and responsibility as God-given and one for which an account will be required. A good leader will exercise power to ensure that there is good governance which will translate into development and prosperity for all Kenyans. As we prepare to go to the polls, let every voter take time to vet the candidates aspiring for political office to ensure that Kenya is led at all levels by men and women who have humility and lead with integrity, transparency, and accountability. The leaders we elect also need to have the requisite skills and understand the context in terms of the needs and aspirations of Kenyans.
The position of County Governor is particularly important as the country transitions to devolved government and lays firm foundations for stability and development in the counties. We urge all voters to prayerfully and individually evaluate all candidates for the various positions before casting their ballots.
3. PREPAREDNESS FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS
The task ahead of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is enormous, unprecedented and complex. Further, the IEBC has been mandated to deliver a credible election in the entire country. It will most certainly require meticulous planning, coordination and impartiality. We also acknowledge that the elections will be highly competitive as the different parties and coalitions position themselves for national and county government control.
The Anglican Church of Kenya commends the IEBC for engaging various sectors of the society to ensure that the electoral process is well executed and managed all the way from voter registration to the swearing in of those who will be elected in the various positions. It is our hope that this partnership will continue especially during this intense voter education season to ensure that all Kenyans are well informed on the changes in the electoral process.
We are concerned about the level of preparedness of the security forces in light of how they have responded in the recent past to incidences of insecurity, particularly during the party nominations held in January 2013. It is important for this key agency of government to continuously reassure Kenyans of the plans they have in place to avert a breakdown in law and order during the entire electioneering period. We call upon the Inspector General of Police to use every legal avenue available to ensure that law and order is maintained during the campaigns, polling and after.
It is also important for all Kenyans to remain vigilant and alert during the electioneering period in view of the fact that we are still vulnerable to terror attacks.
4. VOTER TURNOUT
It is indeed commendable that over 14 million Kenyans registered as voters after concerted efforts by the IEBC and its partner organizations. We have witnessed voter apathy in past elections due to various reasons creating huge disparities between registered voters and those who actually turn up to vote. Our message to every registered Kenya is this: on 4th March 2013, go to your polling station and vote! Make your vote count as an expression of your God-given and constitutional right and responsibility.
We are emerging from an experience where violence was triggered by disputed presidential election results. Our prayer is that free and fair elections will be held and that political aspirants and their supporters will accept the election results. This is a sign of maturity and responsibility. We particularly appeal to the youth to refrain from all acts of violence. All Kenyans should give room for the IEBC to conclude its task of announcing results. Finally judicial means must be our only recourse in settling any disputes that may arise.
6. HATE SPEECH
The images from the last general elections and the resultant post-election violence are still fresh in our minds. Many people died, others were injured and a lot of property was destroyed leaving many Kenyans disenfranchised and disillusioned. A lot of their emotional wounds are yet to heal. A major contributing factor to this tragic situation was words spoken by Kenyans against their neighbours and colleagues based on assumptions and perceived political leanings.
Kenya is a land of God-given ethnic diversity that we should all embrace and manage to ensure that we harness the various strengths for national development.
This is our message to all political aspirants: take responsibility for your utterances during campaigns and desist from statements against other Kenyans just because they are from a different ethnic background.
We especially urge Kenyans to refrain from hate speech which is worryingly rampant especially in the context of social media.
In order to inculcate this discipline, we urge the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, the Communications Commission of Kenya and the police to crack down on hate speech mongers and prosecute them in the courts without further delay.
Seizing the moment means taking this opportunity as a privilege to shape the future of the Kenya we want. It is a call to action for every Kenyan of goodwill to elect visionary, upright leaders who will help us actualize our aspirations for a peaceful, inclusive and prosperous nation with the help of God.
Signed this 7th day of February 2013
At ACK Imani Guest House and Conference Centre, Nakuru
The Most Rev. Dr. Eliud Wabukala
ARCHBISHOP OF KENYA &
BISHOP OF ALL SAINTS CATHEDRAL DIOCESE