What you need to know:
- Bishops lament lack of interest by the president and deputy to strike a political truce.
- The clergy last month offered to step in and end hostilities between the president and his deputy.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have snubbed efforts by religious leaders to reconcile them ahead of the General Election in 2022.
Catholic bishops yesterday told the Sunday Nation that the two have not formally responded to their invitation for talks.
After the national prayers day at Subukia shrine, the bishops said they said are still waiting for Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto to respond to their invitation.
“The invitation still stands. Even today, we prayed for the invitation to become a reality,” Nyeri Archdiocese head, Anthony Muheria, said.
Asked if they have had a sitting on the invitation, Archbishop Muheria responded: “It is not whether we have sat or not. It is a journey . For the good of our nation, the leaders should read from the same script and give us good example. They need to show that it is possible to forgive and work together again. We hope our invite will bear fruits soon.”
The clergy last month offered to step in and end the war of words between the President and his allies on one hand and Dr Ruto with his supporters on the other.
The country’s top two leaders fell out after the 2017 General Election, splitting the ruling Jubilee party into Kieleweke and tangatanga factions.
Responding to the call last month, Dr Ruto said he was ready for talks without any conditions.
Efforts to reach State House spokesperson Kanze Dena yesterday bore no fruit as she did not respond to our text messages.
Push for reconciliation
Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, a President Kenyatta ally, said the religious leaders are not sincere in their push for reconciliation.
“Unfortunately the Church has become a platform for fostering rebellion against the President. The rebellion has germinated because the religious leaders nurtured and watered it,” Mr Kioni, who is also the chairman of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, said by phone.
He added that churches, mostly in Mt Kenya, played a big role in exploiting grievances raised by residents.
“The Church did not know that it was being used to exploit Kenyans. Even as we talk of reconciliation, the Church must define the terms. How do you reconcile with a person who wants to impoverish your people?” the Ndaragwa MP asked.
Dr Ruto’s communication director, Emmanuel Tallam, said his boss is ready for talks but blamed the President’s allies of not being honest.
“The Deputy President is in on record asking the clergy to speed up the talks. He never gave conditions but President Kenyatta’s allies have set tough terms. The problem is elsewhere,” Mr Tallam said.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said Dr Ruto is waiting for the clergy to initiate the talks without any conditions.
Archbishop Muheria said bishops would continue praying for peaceful elections in 2022.
Stand on corruption
“We call on these leaders to change their hearts because our nation and people deserve peace and unity,” he said.
“There are no short cuts. We pray for a united nation. We must avoid the ills of intolerance.”
He added that Kenyans are brothers and sisters and the clergy have a mission to see to it that corruption, tribalism and other evils that divide the nation are uprooted.
“Most of our leaders are Christians and God-fearing. We pray that they listen to the same voice. Unfortunately we hear the voice of the evil one, the voice that leads us to hatred and violence, the voice that leads us to tribalism and divisions, the voice that insults others by not respecting their rightful positions whether political or public,” Archbishop Muheria added.
Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops vice-chairman, Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Nakuru Diocese, appealed for peace too.
He said the conference of bishops is prepared to go an extra mile in efforts to unite the Kenya leadership and people “for prosperity”
“We will do all we can to make our leaders speak with one voice,” Bishop Makumba said.
He challenged those hoping to be elected for various political positions to declare their stand on corruption, drought and other issues the country is grappling with.
“Where do they stand on corruption? What are they going to do about tribalism and the economic woes facing Kenyans once they are elected to office?” Bishop Makumba asked.
“How are they going to respond to the matters being raised by Kenyans? They should pronounce their stand even as they campaign for those positions.”
The church leaders said the strained relationship between President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto poses a threat to the stability of the country as it heads to the 2022 General Election.
The differences between Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto have played out in public on many occasions.
The Catholic bishops called on other leaders to seek ways of reconciling for the sake of the country and its citizens, adding that they are ready to lead such talks.
Dr Ruto and several other leaders seeking the country’s presidency have hit the campaign trail.
The others seeking the presidency are ODM leader Raila Odinga, ANC chief Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Gideon Moi of Kanu, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula among many.
Violence has been reported in some parts of Kenya as the country gears up for elections next year.