Kenya: faith leaders calls for fresh elections

 As it becomes increasingly clear that the talks over the current political crisis are primarily about how the protagonists could share power, faith leaders in Nairobi have said the 2007 election should be nullified and a fresh poll held as soon as possible. The much-maligned Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) should be overhauled, the voter register revised to enable displaced persons to vote and national security improved, the Inter-Religious Forum (IRF), which brings together Christian, Muslim and Hindu leaders, recommended on Thursday. Though the faith leaders reiterated their support for the mediation process led by former UN secretary general Koffi Annan, they, however, expressed sadness at the manner in which the two negotiating teams were going about it. "Both parties have shown bad faith in the discussions. There is no apparent commitment to the welfare of Kenya as a nation, and each seems interested only in what their party wants. All what we have seen is grandstanding, IRF said. The issues underlying the crisis were not receiving adequate attention: comprehensive review of the constitution, resolution of land ownership and use, concretization of national identity (to shift from tribal identity) and national healing and reconciliation. "All indications are that the debate is on how Kenya is governed. We did say, before the elections, that this is a decision that is the sole prerogative of the Kenyan people which has to be ratified through a referendum, which is not feasible at the moment. Kenyans cannot, and should not, cede this important decision to the protagonists or even parliament. A major sticking point of the mediation process is power-sharing through creation of the position of Prime Minister, which is not provided for in the current Constitution. The opposition, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), wants an executive PM, while President Mwai Kibaki and the ruling Party of National Unity (PNU insist any power-sharing deal should be on the basis of the current Constitution, meaning executive power should remain vested in the president. A stand off on this issue has led ODM to threaten to call for mass action from next week. The faith leaders denounced the call, saying "calls for mass action are irresponsible because Kenyans know that mass action was responsible for the loss of life and destruction of property that we have witnessed in the last two months. The religious leaders also expressed concern that communities were arming and organizing themselves for further fighting, "and we are not sure that the protagonists are not party to such schemes. And while hundreds of thousands of displaced Kenyans are living in camps where they are extremely vulnerable should there be a new cycle of violence, parties in the negotiations "do not seem concerned about the welfare of our brothers and sisters who have been displaced, the clerics said. Source: CISA

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