Heads of churches in Kenya have called upon President William Ruto and opposition party Raila Odinga to bury the hatchet ahead of the planned anti-government protests on Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview in Migori town, Bishop John Okinda of PEFA church in a press briefing implored the leaders to put Kenya first, especially at times of such political instability.
“We implore both President Ruto and Raila Odinga to be patriotic leaders even at such times of political difference by putting Kenyans first and not by individual ideas of their supporters,” said Bishop Okinda.
Okinda reiterated that it is for the sake of national unity that they plead with Kenyans to consider dialogue among themselves and practice tolerance.
”We appeal to the two leaders and Kenyans at large to consider coming together to champion dialogue as a solution to the problems that we as Kenyans currently are experiencing.
This call for political tolerance by the clergy is ahead of anti-government demonstrations as called by the leaders of the opposition and planned to take place for three consecutive days beginning Wednesday, July 19, 2023.
The Bishop also showed their readiness to mediate between the two leaders if that is what it could take to reach a consensus that will ensure peace reigns.
“We are ready to stand and mediate in between them if there are issues that need to be resolved because we as religious leaders are non-partisan,” he added.
Okinda who said that their role is to be the intermediary between God and man also called upon Kenyans to heed the message of peace and that Kenyans will continue dwelling in unity all the time.
However, the head of the National Council of Kenya (NCCK) also called upon Raila Odinga to drop the process of nationwide signature collection to oust President Ruto as it could lead to division.
He also pleaded with President Ruto to drop the Finance Act 2023 which is the bone of contention between the government and the opposition.
“As it stands now, Kenyans are overburdened and our plea is that the president should also drop the Finance Act, 2023 which will continue to make life more unbearable,” he said.
His message was echoed by Reverend Charles Otigo of The Deliverance Church of Kenya, who said that the dialogue should also include the youth as they suffer the direct effects of the ongoing demonstrations.
His remarks referred to the usual trends where youths have been involved in the destruction of properties such as roads and wholesales during the demonstrations.
Otago said appealed to the parents and concerned parties to give appropriate counseling to the youths who are most of the time under the influence of hard drugs during demonstrations.
“I want to call upon the parents, relevant authorities, and organizations to come forth and issue correct advice to the youth, especially against the drugs which have driven them to property destruction.
Referring to Migori County where demonstrations have been intense, he said that it is upon the youth to be cautious about the future which lies in every action they take today.
“I want to tell the youth that there is no other county that will be home to us than Migori County. This, therefore, should make us be conservative about the natural resources at whatever cost,” he said.
The man of God, however, encouraged those who would wish to engage in tomorrow’s demonstrations to Demonstrate peacefully.
He also called upon the police and other security officers to stop using force on the demonstrators as peaceful demonstration is enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution.
“Our message is that the demonstrations should be peaceful for those who will opt to demonstrate as the police should also take responsibility of guarding property and life seriously,” he said.