Catholic bishops call for President Ruto, Raila dialogue to resolve standoff

Catholic bishops

From Left: The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Chairman Rev Martin Kivuva, Nyeri Archbishop Rev Anthony Muheria with Kisumu Archbishop Rev Maurice Muhatia addressing journalists at Russel House-Donum Dei in Karen, Nairobi on March 22, 2023.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita I Nation Media Group

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has called on President William Ruto to engage Azimio leader Raila Odinga in a dialogue to resolve the standoff that led to Monday’s anti-government protests.

Led by Archbishop Martin Kivuva, the Conference's chairperson, the bishops also asked the President to address the high cost of living; a matter that protesters have been loud about, and for Raila to accept dialogue.

“We plead and ask our President to follow through with his promise to sit with and listen to Mr Odinga and other leaders and come out with reasonable proposals to address the main plights in our country. We also invite Mr Odinga to accept dialogue for the good of the country,” said Archbishop Kivuva.

“We believe that dialogue can resolve this dangerous standoff. The two need to establish a common ground to address the ills facing the country and restore sanity we need in our country,” he added.

For his part, Archbishop Anthony Muheria condemned the use of force by police officers during Monday demonstrations.

“The injuries and loss of even one life is way too expensive. Kenyan lives matter. We urge restraint of the police in such occasions and urge them against use of live bullets and excessive force that might cause injury to the people,” said Archbishop Muheria.

He also urged Kenyans to forgo demonstrations, saying that the protests will not resolve the grievances cited. He added that Kenyans should instead take advantage of the rains to farm.

“The fact that it is legal to demonstrate should not make it a vehicle to paralyse the country, nor degenerate to a forceful takeover of a legitimate government! We must allow ourselves to be guided by the law and not our own individual perspectives,” said Archbishop Muheria.

He further urged: “We should not entertain any goal that seeks to use violence or force to take leadership. Unfortunately, we have witnessed looting and destruction of property that leads to huge losses during the demonstrations.”

Bishop Maurice Muhatia, the Vice chairperson of the conference also called out Azimio la Umoja, saying that their call to the current government to resign in order to be replaced by their leader Mr Odinga is dangerous and unconstitutional.

He asked Azimio to contest any other matter they have in court, noting that the Supreme Court declaration made the current government legitimately elected.

“Demonstrations cannot annul or take over the Constitution. We must respect the rule of law. The only way to avoid chaos and anarchy is always to follow the Constitution and the laws of the land. We rtherefore appeal to all leaders to pursue the path of peace and dialogues and create an enabling environment where all Kenyans can work and increase productivity,” said Bishop Muhatia.

“We the Catholic Bishops declare our intention and willingness to rejoin with the leader’s and other Kenyans of goodwill to have national conversation over the issues that are ailing us,” he said.