Distraught faith leaders on Friday moved away from the usual praises heaped on Kenya as a peaceful nation and instead categorically stated that the reputation had been shown to be undeserved. At a national prayer service organized by the Inter-Religious Forum, and which was attended by, among others, President Mwai Kibaki and a representative of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the leaders expressed disgust at the "sinful, barbaric, retrogressive and self-defeating post-election chaos in which over 850 people have been killed and some 350,000 others displaced. "It has become plain to all that our political, economic and socio-cultural life is not based on values that promote nationhood and national coherence. We are exclusive rather than inclusive; we are ethnocentric rather than Kenyan; We are corrupt rather than upright; we are murderous rather than life-protecting; we are subverters rather than achievers; we are violent rather than peace-loving; and, we are anarchists rather than constructive. The faith leaders called on all Kenyans to stop the violence at once. They said, without naming names, that some of the perpetrators of the chaos were national leaders. The government and the private sector should move with speed to address national inequalities, not only in resource allocation but also in the provision of socio-economic skills and employment places. There were too many idle youths, the leaders said. The current crisis, they said, had revealed serious weaknesses in national leadership and institutions. Political interests had overridden national stability. Even religious groups had become partisan. The negotiations being undertaken at the moment should yield a solution for the future of Kenya. "We hold the negotiating teams and their parties accountable to Kenyans. You must agree for national good. The leaders also called for completion of the constitutional review process "so as to comprehensively facilitate judicial reform, electoral law reform and the setting up of solid institutions that eliminate discrimination and disparity. On his part, President Kibaki underlined the importance of prayer in bringing about national reconciliation and healing. "God promises to listen to our prayers. He will forgive our failures, heal and restore our land when we ask for these through prayer. He also appealed to Christians to obey the second greatest commandment in the Bible: Love your neighbour as yourself. He said he was committed to dialogue "that will lead to an amicable solution of the immediate and as well as the underlying causes of the problems we are facing. Meanwhile, the country's security forces were under strict instructions to take firm action against perpetrators of violence, the President said. He expressed confidence that soon Kenya will reclaim its reputation not only as a nation at peace with itself but also as a peacemaker. Source: CISA
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