2016-12-23 17:03:00

The Catholic Bishops of Kenya call for dialogue over changes to elections law

The Catholic Bishops of Kenya on Thursday 22 Dec. called for dialogue after a bill to change the current electoral law was hastily passed in parliament.

In a statement, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops-Justice and Peace Commission said it was saddened by the changes to the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act and called for dialogue among political leaders in all processes related to elections, to minimise mistrust, conflict and possible violence.

They called on President Uhuru Kenyatta not to sign the bill into law. "The President should rise above politics and act in his capacity [as Kenya's leader] and the symbol of national unity to promote cohesion," said the chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission, Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret Diocese. "We urge you not to sign the amendments into law and that you give dialogue a chance." They also appealed to Cord and other opposition parties to always give dialogue a chance.

For more insights to this story read the article below by the Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Kenyan legislators came to blows Thursday as opposition members tried to block an emergency session that passed a bill to allow manual counting of election results, calling it a back door to manipulating next year's presidential vote.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga called for mass protests from Jan. 4, saying, ``No transparency, no elections.''

Parliament's deputy minority leader, Jakoyo Midiwo, said they are challenging the bill's legality. ``They are trying to force a law to rig the elections,'' Midiwo said.

The bill needs Senate passage and approval by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is running for re-election.

Kenya tried to digitize its election process in the 2013 elections in an effort to prevent the vote-rigging in 2007 that sparked violence killing more than 1,000 people. But biometric kits to scan people's fingers didn't work properly and a server handling voting results crashed, and the process was completed manually.

Odinga unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court challenging Kenyatta's 2013 win, claiming the system was set up to fail to allow the more easily manipulated manual system. Kenyatta received a majority of votes to avoid a runoff with Odinga, by 4,099 votes out of more than 12.3 million cast.

Odinga is Kenyatta's closest challenger in the upcoming election. Kenyatta led Odinga 50 percent to 22 percent in a recent opinion poll.

The Catholic church, with 11 million followers in a country of 40 million, condemned the passing of the bill. The chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Justice and Peace Commission, Rev. Cornelius Korir, said it goes against the spirit of jointly negotiated amendments to reform electoral laws passed in August by parliament. Those changes came after violent street protests accusing the electoral commission of corruption and bias.

Many of the August amendments stipulated that the election process should be digitized.

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.