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“Uphold the independence, dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court”: Catholic Bishops in Kenya Urge

CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 07 September 2017

upholding dignity of supreme court in kenya 2017The Catholic Bishops in Kenya have called on all Kenyans and especially the political leaders to respect the decision made by the Supreme Court annulling the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We, the Catholic Bishops, call on all Kenyans to uphold the independence, dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court and Constitutional institutions even when we do not agree with their decisions,” the Bishops have stated in their letter of Wednesday, September 6.

On Friday, September 1, the Supreme Court in Kenya annulled the President Kenyatta’s re-election, which had been declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on August 11.

The Chief Justice, David Maraga said that the Court’s verdict had been supported by four of the six judges and irregularities, ordering a fresh poll within 60 days.

In response to the ruling, President Kenyatta called for calm and respect for the ruling in a prepared speech. However, he later accused the court of going against the will of the majority of Kenyans, dismissing the Chief Justice and his three colleagues who had supported the ruling as “wakora” (crooks).

“While every individual can criticize any institution that he or she disagrees with, attacks that diminish the integrity of the Judiciary and any other public institution should stop,” the Bishops have cautioned and added, “We call upon the Jubilee and other leaders to accept the ruling and stop the threats, intimidation and vendetta against the Supreme Court.”

The ruling has been praised across Africa and elsewhere as a victory of the independence of the judiciary.

Below is the full text of the Bishops’ statement.

“Let one and all Arise … to build this our Nation together”

We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Nairobi, have reflected on the words of the second and third stanzas of our National Anthem which form the basis of the title of this proclamation and also the message in the Holy Scripture which reads as follows: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Once again, we wish to address you our dear Kenyans and all people of goodwill regarding the various matters of national concern our Country Kenya is seized with.

We, the Bishops, applaud the National Super Alliance (NASA) for heeding our call to present their petition to the Supreme Court to be heard and determined instead of taking the electoral dispute to the court of public opinion, which would have led to unmitigated conflicts and violence. This act of filing the petition at the Supreme Court of Kenya has enhanced the place of our Institutions, especially the Supreme Court in dispute resolution. 

Now that the Supreme Court has discharged its obligation by delivering the ruling on 1st September 2017 within the fourteen days allowed for determination of the presidential petition, we call on all Kenyans to abide by and respect this decision and for all to implement the orders accordingly.

We, the Catholic Bishops, call on all Kenyans to uphold the independence, dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court and Constitutional institutions even when we do not agree with their decisions. While every individual can criticize any institution that he or she disagrees with, attacks that diminish the integrity of the Judiciary and any other public institution should stop. We call for an end to this open intimidation and threats to the Judiciary and the Supreme Court.  We call upon the Jubilee and other leaders to accept the ruling and stop the threats, intimidation and vendetta against the Supreme Court. The singling out of Chief Justice David Maraga for vilification carries much more weight than criticism. We can only build our Country together where there is goodwill.

We hail all Kenyans for coming out in large numbers on August 8th, 2017  to vote.  We urge you all in the same spirit to turn out in large numbers on October 17th to vote for your preferred presidential candidate as announced by IEBC. Ensure you engage in peaceful and respectful campaigns and turn out to exercise your democratic right and responsibility of electing leaders and the Government to serve you. Please uphold our national values to ensure the election is credible, free and fair and held in a peaceful manner.

We welcome the orders of the Supreme Court ruling which asked IEBC to arrange and carry out a fresh presidential election within sixty days. Accordingly, we now urge all parties to support IEBC to deliver on its constitutional mandate. On one hand, we are particularly concerned by the NASA threats to boycott the fresh presidential election that was ordered by the Supreme Court if their ultimatums are not met. On the other hand, we have seen Jubilee leaders acting as spokespersons of the IEBC. These actions infringe on the independence and authority of IEBC. We, as Bishops, call on all Kenyans to develop constructive channels of dealing with the challenges IEBC is faced with and to stop attacking the Institution charged with the responsibility of managing elections.  We, should, as a Country, learn to have amicable ways and means of registering our grievances and resolving our challenges within the time we have before October 17th.  Even with the best intentions, there are actions that may not be completed in time. May the spirit of wisdom prevail.

At the same time, we urge IEBC to be highly consultative and transparent in its preparations for the forthcoming presidential election. We, the Catholic Bishops, accept and support the calls for essential administrative, procedural and operational actions and reforms that may need to be carried out to ensure the fresh presidential election is conducted in strict conformity with the Constitution and the electoral laws as the Supreme Court directed. To this end, we offer ourselves, with the other members of the Mediation Panel of the Religious Leaders under the Multi-Sectoral Forum, to facilitate quick talks at the request of IEBC that will help build consensus and confidence around the preparations, processes and actions leading to the holding of the fresh presidential election in October 17, 2017. IEBC must work with utmost integrity to gain the confidence of the stakeholders and the citizens of Kenya.

In conclusion dear Kenyans, the Catholic Church will continue to stand for the strengthening of institutions, dialogue and mediation and peace-building to ensure that Kenya holds a free, fair and credible election as ordered by the Supreme Court. As your Shepherds, we are available to accompany and pray with you at every stage of the journey as we endeavor to build our Country together in one accord.  Let all with one arise, with hearts both strong and true. This is our moment of patriotism and, we must show that our minds have been renewed and transformed.

Fellow Kenyans, let us pray for our Country and live up to the call of our faith and National Anthem. We commend this Country to prayer for peace, justice and prosperity.

Signed

Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo

CHAIRMAN, KENYA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

Wednesday, 6th September 2017

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