Kenya: bishops protest over tribal clashes in run-up to elections

 Catholic bishops in Nairobi have expressed concern as parts of the country have been hard hit by tribal clashes on the eve of the country's general elections on December 27. In a statement read out to the press yesterday by the chair of the bishops' national commission for justice and peace, Bishop Peter Kairu, they demanded that the government provide security "to the people who put it in power," adding, "We cannot accept that crimes can be committed with impunity, in full view of the police, and arrests are not made." The bishops expressed fears that displaced people in the clash-hit areas may be denied their right to vote. They appealed to the Electoral Commission of Kenya to provide mobile polling stations in those areas. Fifteen days ahead of the polls, thousands of people are living in fear as marauding gangs kill, maim and destroy property in parts of the country's Rift Valley and Western provinces. The bishops in their statement pointed that more than 20 people are believed to have been killed and an unknown number wounded in the latest round of violence in Molo, adding that more than 16,000 people have been affected, with 200 houses torched. The bishops said it was "very sad to note that a group of people can descend on other Kenyans and rain all manner of mayhem on them because they belong to a different political grouping, subscribe to a different political ideology or belong to a different tribe." The country belongs to all citizens and no one should restrict the freedom of movement, expression and association guaranteed everyone by the constitution, the bishops said. They appealed to party supporters not to be misused by politicians to cause chaos. Politicians should also not incite their supporters but should instead preach peace at campaign rallies. "At this time of heightened political campaigns, we ask all people to practice tolerance and respect the right of others to express themselves freely," the bishops said.

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