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Church calls for delay in constitution referendum

Summary & Comment: The Anglican Church of Kenya is calling for a postponement of the referendum on the changes to the constitution. Their spokesman says, "fear, anxiety, confusion, suspicion, and apathy have gripped the nation before the vote." They do not want to see a repeat of the violence following the election in 2007. DH

Author: Fredrick Nzwili, Nairobi Date Written: 9 July 2010
Primary Category: Kenya Document Origin: Ecumenical News International, Geneva
Secondary Category: -none- Source URL: http://www.eni.ch/
Key Words: Kenya, church, constitution, delay, referendum,

African Charter Article #13: Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of their country and to equal access of public services . (Click for full text...)

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Church wants constitution vote postponed


The Anglican Church of Kenya has called on the East African nation's government to reschedule a referendum on a proposed constitution, set for 4 August, in the interests of peace in the country.  The church's bishops, led by Archbishop Eluid Wabukala, cautioned that Kenya is at a cross-roads and risks falling apart, if things continue as they are.  "Given the mood of the nation, we see postponement of the referendum with a view to building a consensus is, in the long term, in the best interest of the nation," Wabukala told journalists after the church's synod meeting in Nairobi on 8 July.

Fear, anxiety, confusion, suspicion and apathy have gripped the nation before the vote, according to the church leader. He said the stakes had been raised, creating an environment similar to the time prior to the 2007 poll and the 2008 post election period when violence erupted leading to deaths of 1300 people.  "We prayed and fasted as we cried out to God to save our country from civil strife. We do not want to risk a repeat of these events," said the Anglican cleric.

Although most Kenyan churches accuse the government of forcing the proposed constitution on its citizens, the Anglican leader urged the authorities to open dialogue and build consensus on narrowing the growing gap between the government and faith groups. Christian leaders have opposed the proposed constitution, saying it permits abortion, entrenches an Islamic legal system known as Kadhi courts, and restricts freedom of worship. "We shall have lost out on the reason for a new constitution, if the people adopt it without taking it to heart," Wabukala said. "Let every Kenyan be driven by the vision of united people, a people who are very aware of their shared humanity and the beauty of diversity."

The Anglican church, while standing by its opposition to the draft constitution, stresses that whether it passes or is rejected, there will be aggrieved citizens whose concerns cannot be ignored. "Such a scenario will not augur well for the future of the nation," said Wabukala. "There should be no victor or vanquished in a constitution making process."

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