By Allan Kisia, Francis Ontomwa and Bryan Tumwa
Nairobi, KENYA: Retired Anglican Archbishop David Gitari has asked church leaders to advise voters on choices to make during March 4 elections.
Gitari said it was the duty of church leaders to illustrate to Kenyans qualities they should look for when electing new leaders. He said church leaders should not keep away from politics because of the notion that it is a “dirty game. He further said Kenyans should be encouraged to come out in large numbers to vote for their preferred candidates. “If you refuse to cast your vote, evil men and women will be elected to power and politics will become a dirty game. You will then suffer the consequences,” he stated.
Gatari made the remark on Sunday during a church service at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala and other church leaders were present.
Last July, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) secretary-general David Karanja urged religious leaders to stress the importance of values and qualities needed in those seeking public office.
Avoid violence
 “As we cast our votes, memories of the 2008 post-election violence should be fresh in our minds. We should not allow a repeat of the violence,” he stated.
He said Kenyans are living at a critical time, a period when they have to make decisions that will affect their future. “The people who will be elected will be critical in the full implementation of the Constitution,” he added. He urged Christians and all God-fearing Kenyans to pray for a peaceful and fair election.
He recalled how the country’s first Constitution was mutilated to suit the interests of a few people and how the country returned to multi-party democracy in 1992.
Elsewhere, the Church has pledged to take a leading role in this year’s election by encouraging the public to engage politicians about their manifestos and policy proposals. While the country’s attention has been fixated on the presidential debates, candidates for other political seats have been subjected to interviews for their respective positions courtesy of public fora sponsored by religious organisations.
NCCK has held meetings across the country that has brought together residents and politicians to discuss the agenda they have for the people they intend to govern. In Kakamega County, religious leaders and residents met at The Salvation Army Headquarters in Lurambi Constituency to interrogate political candidates for various elective seats on their plans if elected to office.
Question leaders
“What our debate targets is to open up avenues for people to understand their candidates so as to make informed decisions come the March polls,” stated Anastasia Sakwa of NCCK.
Ms Sakwa said the Constitution had opened up avenues to question leaders on what they intended to do for the people, saying this was positive for democracy and governance.
“We invited all candidates for the various seats and we are happy that most of them showed up; the Constitution that we are operating in requires that we put our leaders to task on their promises,” she stressed.