Leaders including Deputy President William Ruto have asked church organizations to participate in the ongoing efforts to unite the country through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Speaking during the installation ceremony of new Kericho Catholic Diocese Bishop Alfred Rotich held in Kericho town, on Saturday, the leaders said churches should not tolerate any efforts aimed at dividing the country, especially during the BBI deliberations.
“Churches should continue praying for leaders so that they do the will of Kenyans of uniting them and not to pursue their own interests,” said Dr Ruto.
The Deputy President said church leaders should take the lead in correcting those in leadership if things ‘are not being carried out in line with the Christ teachings so that they truly serve God’.
He urged leaders to exercise honesty and sincerity on matters pertaining to BBI, noting that the sole aim of the initiative was to eliminate politics of division, hatred and tribalism.
“As a country, we want to open a new chapter of walking together as Kenyans irrespective of our ethnic, religious and political affiliations. Let’s engage in honest discussion on the BBI reports,” said Dr Ruto.
Present were Governors Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Hillary Barchok (Bomet).
Others were Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Kipsengeret Koros (Soin/Sigowet), Beatrice Kones (Bomet East), Silvanus Maritim (Ainamoi), Japheth Mutai (Bureti), Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East), Hilary Kosgei (Kipkelion West), Christopher Langat (Bomet), Gideon Kosgei (Chepalungu) and Florence Bore (Women Rep, Kericho).
Catholic Church Pope Representative to Kenya and South Sudan Bert Van Megen, Cabinet Secretaries Charles Keter (Energy) and Simon Chelugui (Labour) and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi were also present.
The leaders urged the church to pray for leaders to continue with the unity of all Kenyans, especially during the BBI meetings.
Mr Mudavadi said churches should continue praying so that leaders put aside their differences and embrace the unity of all Kenyans.
“Kenya is for all and we must embrace each other. We have faith in the churches on the unity of the country,” said Mr Mudavadi.
Mr Murkomen said there were efforts to sideline other Kenyans in the ongoing debate over the BBI.
“I want to ask the church to pray so that leaders in this country continue promoting the unity of all Kenyans instead of sidelining others,” said Mr Murkomen.
He added: “What we are currently witnessing is a situation where the unity that is being preached through BBI is sidelining other people instead of bringing together all Kenyans.”
They said it was the responsibility of the church to ensure the talks surrounding BBI were aimed at uniting all Kenyans and not sidelining others.
MP Ichungwa said there were deliberate efforts in the county to threaten and coerce some leaders to ‘follow a certain direction’ as far as issues pertaining to BBI were concerned.
He said there should be genuine efforts to unite the country through the BBI but not to create division and hatred among other Kenyans.
“The voice of the church is required as far as matters of the unity of this country is concerned. Some of us are being threatened and coerced to support a certain direction on BBI but we trust in God,” said Mr Ichungwa.
Governor Sang said the church should take its rightful place in the management of the country, noting that the level of deceit among leaders particularly on matters of BBI were shocking.
“What is currently going on in the country through BBI is simply burning bridges and not building as we think. As leaders, we must be sincere and tell Kenyans the truth,” said Mr Sang.
Governor Kimemia said leaders should take the lead in the fight against tribalism.
“BBI should address problems affecting the people including poor tea and coffee prices among other challenges facing Kenyans,” said Governor Kimemia.
Bishop Rotich said the church would continue to remain truthful by voicing its concerns on issues affecting Kenyans.