National News

Civil Society, Religious Institutions express concern over situation in Kenya

By Nichola Dominic Mandil

 

South Sudanese Civil Society and Faith-Based Institutions have issued a statement, expressing concern on the current political situation in Kenya as the country is undergoing a dramatic political development.

 

The statement was issued few days as Kenyans went to the polls for the presidential re-run, which was boycotted by the leading opposition figure, the Kenyan veteran politician, Raila Odinga, who last week described the electoral process as a “sham.”

 

The region and especially the neighbours of Kenya including South Sudan are worried that the current political trend in Kenya is leading to a worst case scenario, as observers said that Kenya is now more divided than ever, with others suggesting that Kenya might split into autonomous regions if the incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta is declared president.

 

The current development in Kenya prompted the South Sudanese civil society activists and religious leaders who were meeting in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, to issue a statement on 27th October 2017, a copy of it received by Juba Monitor.

 

The activists stated, “We the South Sudanese civil society and faith based institutions meeting in Uganda on matters related to South Sudan have, simultaneously been watching unfolding events in Kenya with concern.”

 

The participants further said, “We recognise the long-term democratic achievements of Kenya: a country that has been a pillar of stability, rule of law and judicial independence in the region.”

 

“We further appreciate that Kenya is one of our sister countries that has hosted our people and stood in solidarity with us through our struggles for decades,” the statement added.

 

The civil society activists and the religious leaders expressed that though, they take into account the experience in South Sudan, the suffering South Sudanese have endured and the role that Kenya in particular played in the making of peace amongst the Sudanese during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) negotiations, they shared the following with the people and leaders of Kenya.

 

“We caution you on the perils of politics based on zero-sum contestation and confrontation. This kind of political competition is dangerous and can have serious and long-term consequences that may not be fully comprehensible at this time, and which could jeopardize the stability that Kenya has enjoyed for long,” they stated.

 

With regards to contentious issues, the activists urged that such issues should be resolved through peaceful and legal means, including dialogue and judicial processes. “Political contestants should not hold the country ransom to their personal interests, and should first and foremost consider the interests of all Kenyan citizens,” they stressed.

 

“We call on the people of Kenya to maintain calm and to express their views through democratic and non-violent means. We call on all security forces, including the police, to exercise maximum restraint and act within the framework of the laws of Kenya, recognising that brutality can ignite and exacerbate conflict.”

 

They further said, “We urge the Kenyan Defence Forces and all other security forces to continue to maintain political neutrality and a high degree of professionalism. We call on all Kenyans to ensure that their actions, at this critical time, contribute to maintaining the unity of the country.”

 

The South Sudanese activists and religious men and women also appealed to Kenya, to take heed and learn from the experience in South Sudan, as well as other experiences in the region, and to take all possible measures to prevent the country from plunging into a protracted conflict.

 

The statement was signed by eleven advocacy groups and churches; Assistance Mission Africa, Eve Organisation,  Human Rights Initiative, Institute for Economic Affairs, South Sudan,  Justice and Peace Commission, African Inland Church South Sudan, Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Peace and Development Collaborative Organisation, South Sudan Law Society, South Sudan Youth for Peace and Development Organisation, South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections and the Youth Empowerment Service.

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