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In pursuing its Christian calling, the Council shall uphold:
Towards Peaceful and Credible Elections in Kenya
Luhya Clergy and Elders Dialogue Forum
We the Clergy and Elders drawn from the Luhya community have met here at Bishop Stam Pastoral Center, Kakamega, on 20th and 21st February 2017 to reflect on the imperative for peace before, during and after the coming General Elections.
We took time during this forum to reflect on the question of self esteem at individual and community level, and the measures that need to be taken to rebuild it so as to mitigate the negative effects of its absence.
Further, we discussed the factors that have a potential to imperil peace during the August 2017 General Elections, and identified the appropriate remedial measures we as clergy and elders need to take.
Prevailing Political Environment
The Forum noted with concern that the political environment in the country is very charged with increased polarization between the major political coalitions, NASA (National Super Alliance) and Jubilee. There is intensified political activity as existing and new aspirants reach out to voters.
Appreciation for Progress Made
This Forum noted with appreciation that the Luhya Elders and Clergy Forum (LECF) was formed in November last year and holds the promise of promoting unity and social development of our community. Participants assured the leadership of the LECF of their support and prayers.
This Forum also noted with appreciation that over the last few months, there has been a greater expression of unity among the Luhya sub-tribes especially among the politicians.
Threats to Peace
This Forum noted that there are certain factors that could threaten peace during the current electoral period. These include:
a) Hate speech and Careless utterances by politicians and aspirants
b) Formation of militia groups by politicians and aspirants
c) Undemocratic inter party processes including unfair nominations, political zoning leading to forced political alignments, and tribalization of parties and coalitions
d) Careless Media Coverage
e) Incitement on Social Media
f) Challenges touching on the IEBC, including an unacceptable Voters Register, transfer of voters, uncontrolled voting in prisons, and general lack of confidence in the IEBC
g) Confrontations between the youth and the police
Having considered these threats to peace before, during and after the August elections, we have agreed on the following initiatives and measures:
a) Enhance cooperation through the LECF
The Clergy and Elders will actively support the meetings and engagements of the Luhya Elders and Clergy Forum (LECF) as a vehicle for promoting united action of the entire community. We will use our own resources to attend the meeting and undertake other activities.
b) Undertake Advocacy with political leaders
The Clergy and Elders will continue reaching out to political leaders drawn from the Luhya community to urge them to publicly present unity for the sake of the Luhya community. In addition, the Clergy and Elders will strongly impress on the political leaders and aspirants that all political processes must be undertaken in an environment of peace. It will be made clear that incitement to violence will not be tolerated.
c) Undertake Advocacy with holders of constitutional offices
The Clergy and Elders will reach out to the community members who hold offices in constitutional commissions for prayer and encouragement. The engagements will also be used to assure them of support and imploring them to undertake their mandates faithfully and with justice.
d) Use available forums to preach peace and criminalize violence
The Clergy and Elders will use the forums available to them to preach peace among the community members. Of urgent importance is to deliberately criminalize the incitement of youth in different areas where intolerance is being witnessed. All community members will be encourage to allow politicians of all parties to campaign peacefully.
e) Use available forums to prepare community to vote and accept election results peacefully
The Clergy and Elders will use the forums available to them to encourage the community members to prepare to vote during the elections, and thereafter either accept the results as announced by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) or file petitions in court.
Appreciably, elections are critical processes in the country because they are the vehicle through which political leaders are elected. As the Luhya community, we need to build our sense of self esteem so that we elect the leaders we choose for ourselves and who will benefit our community. We are therefore committed to approaching these elections with an intention of maintaining peace before, during and after the voting.
We will always be guided by the scriptures recorded in Romans 14: 19 – “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification”.
Signed on this 21st day of February 2017 on behalf of Clergy and Elders at Bishop Stam Pastoral Center, Kakamega.
Bishop Zedekiah Chunge
Chairman, NCCK Western Region