Churches in Kenya have apologized for their failure to confront in a unified manner the election crisis that erupted in late December, and they have urged politicians and others involved in Kenyan society also to seek forgiveness.
“We regret as church leaders, we were partisan,” said the National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK). “Our efforts to forestall the current crisis were not effective, because we as the membership of NCCK did not speak in one voice.”
The group agreed they were divided in the way they viewed the management of the elections, that they had identified with their people in ethnic terms and were divided on how to deal with the crisis.
But the group’s statement said: “We call on church leaders to recapture their strategic position as the moral authority of the nation.” They added, “We have put in place measures to enable us to overcome the divisive forces, and set off on a new beginning. As the church we will do all our best in helping achieve the rebirth of a new Kenya.”
The church leaders said they wanted to see the creation of a credible electoral body, the streamlining of the judiciary, a people-serving parliament, a better civil service and a respectful presidency. They also want an examination of the distribution of land and for internally displaced persons to be resettled.
“Our leaders got sucked into the partisan political positions. We do apologize on their behalf to Kenyans. Indeed, someone must own up to the blame for the wrongs,” said Rev. Peter Karanja, the NCCK general secretary.
“I urge politicians and other players to recognize the need (to apologize) as a way of dealing with our current crisis, beginning with the path of healing in humility” said Mr. Karanja.
The east African country descended into violence soon after the electoral commission of Kenya announced President Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity as the winner of the Dec. 27 election. Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement said the poll was rigged, and called on his supporters for countrywide peaceful protests.
By the time calm returned to Kenya after five weeks, more than 1,000 people had died and up to 600 000 had been displaced.