Dialogue Reference Group Press Statement
May 25, 2021
A CALL TO UPHOLD AND DEFEND THE RULE OF LAW
Justice is the equalizing factor among all humans. Without it, there is extensive human suffering, and people have no peace or safety. It is in this understanding that Kenyans, through the National Anthem, always pray: “O God of all creation, bless this our land and nation, justice be our shield and defender”.
It is with this in mind that the Dialogue Reference Group meeting here today the 24th day of May 2021 at Ufungamano House has considered the inspiration in the Bible as recorded in Micah 6: 8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
And also from the Holy Koran in Chapter 5 verse 16
Wherein Allah guideth all who seek his good pleasure to ways of peace and safety and leadeth them out of darkness by his will unto light.
We now wish to share the following message with all Kenyans.
- Transition in the Judiciary
This Dialogue Reference Group takes this moment to congratulate Lady Justice Martha Koome upon her appointment as the 15th Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya. We especially recognize that she is the first lady to hold this position. This is a welcome development, coming at a time when as a nation we are progressing the campaign for gender equity and equality. We assure Chief Justice Koome of our prayers and support as she leads the Judiciary, and look forward to growth of the legal dispensation and streamlining of the due processes. It is our prayer that the new leadership will do all what is human possible to enhance access by Kenyans to justice. May justice be done and be seen to be done, for it is the shield and defender of our nation as we often confess in the National Anthem.
- Respect For Institutions
This Dialogue Reference Group has noted with grave concern the vitriolic attacks that were poured on the five Judges of the High Court of Kenya after they delivered the ruling on the various petitions touching on the proposed amendment of the Constitution of Kenya through the Building Bridges Initiative. These attacks should have never happened, for no organ of state should be vilified for executing its mandate. Even when we are not satisfied with a ruling, we must always respect the Judiciary and follow the due process of appeal that is provided for in the law.
On their part, we encourage the officers within the Judiciary to avoid acting and speaking in a way that provokes and appears disrespectful of the other arms of government.
We therefore urge all public officers and political leaders to exercise and project mutual respect of the different institutions. It is not good for the nation when there is a sense of discord between the three arms of government.
- Renewing the Call for National Dialogue
This Dialogue Reference Group recalls that faith leaders have been on the forefront advocating for national unity and peace in the country. It is for this reason that the Dialogue Reference Group was constituted in 2016 to spearhead dialogue as a means to addressing the underlying causes of conflict and violence in the country. We therefore welcomed The Handshake between His Excellency the President and the Former Prime Minister in March 2018 as this offered a chance for national dialogue. The hope was that the Agenda Four Issues identified in the Dr Koffi Annan-led 2008 national dialogue process, which continue to bedevil the country and drive the cycle of violence every five years, would finally be addressed.
However, the public character of the Building Bridges Initiative changed in the course of time, and its image was minimized to only focus on amendment of the Constitution. Unless the ongoing judicial process reverses the ruling of the High Court, this process will have been stopped.
What should concern all Kenyans is that the conditions that necessitated the Handshake and the BBI still remain. The feelings of exclusion, unresolved historical injustices, toxic politics, and endemic politically-driven ethnic divisions have been heightened.
For this reason, we reiterate the proposal we made in 2018 that a National Dialogue Process be initiated to provide Kenyans a platform to express themselves and agree how to move forward together. Necessary constitutional and Legal reforms would then be a natural outcome of that process, and such would be largely agreed upon. We strongly recommend the development of a legal framework for the National Dialogue Process that complies with the Constitution.
- Prepare for 2022 General Elections
This Dialogue Reference Group notes that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) continues to suffer from a serious case of leadership and credibility crisis. The ruling by the High Court put serious doubts on the capacity of the Commission to organize and manage the constitutionally scheduled General Elections in August 2022. We do note that whereas the process of selecting Commissioners for the Commission has kicked off, the appointment of a substantive Chief Executive Officer remains in limbo. These processes need to be expedited.
Further, the divisions between the Commissioners and the Secretariat that was witnessed in the past have not been addressed, and Kenyans do not have a guarantee that the procurement and administrative discord will not emerge in the next electoral process.
We now call upon the IEBC to begin making the necessary preparations, and to communicate the same to Kenyans so as to enhance trust and confidence. The preparations should include transparent appointment of electoral officers at all levels, public procurement of elections related materials, and setting up of elections management and results transmission systems.
On its part, we call upon Parliament to urgently finalize the development and enactment of the various laws that touch on elections, including:
- Political Party Primaries Bill
- Referendum Bill
- Campaign Finance (Amendment) Bill
- Representation of Special Interest Groups Bill
- Gender Parity Bill
Everything possible must be done to assure Kenyans of peaceful, credible, free and fair elections in August 2022.
We conclude by remembering that whereas justice is core to humanity and a stable nation, justice itself is dependent on respect for and adherence with the law. All attempts at impunity must be resisted so that Kenya holds together as a nation.
May God bless Kenya now and forever more:
Signed on this 24th day of May 2021 at Ufungamano House, Nairobi:
|Evangelical Alliance of Kenya|
|Hindu Council of Kenya||
|Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops|
|National Council of Churches of Kenya|
|Organisation of African Instituted Churches|
|Seventh Day Adventist Church||
|Shia Asna Ashri Jamaat|