Catholic Bishops are cautioning the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission against forcing through the printing contract for ballot papers, if key stakeholders disagree with it.
In a pastoral letter on elections, the clerics under the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) argue it would be important for the commission to discuss the printing job with everyone concerned to ensure the credibility of elections is intact.
“Transparency of the IEBC is so important. If there are doubts of any kind, they should be sorted out before elections,” said Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret
“If the other side is not satisfied, the other side should give a chance for dialogue (sic)…if dialogue reaches a dead end, the whole thing should be cancelled,” he added.
They spoke on Tuesday as IEBC said it would go ahead with sending representatives from the media, civil society and political parties to the printing firm Al-Ghurair in Dubai to witness how the work will be done.
But the commission has come under intense disapproval from opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa), which insists the tender awarded to the Emirati firm should be cancelled.
Last week, Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga claimed the printing job was given to the company because its officials were close associates of the First Family, claims the government has denied.
But as we hurtle towards the Election Day on August 8, the commission, which felt it had run out of time, argued it awarded the tender to Al-Ghurair Printing and Publishing because the company has printed ballot papers the commission has used in several by-elections since 2014.
The clerics were speaking generally against corruption, violence and other political misbehaviour during the electioneering time.
They called for a free, fair and peaceful elections and said Kenyans must weigh qualities of every leader on the ballot paper.
On inciters of violence, the bishops said they should be “resisted” and rejected by the voters.
“We call on Kenyans to reject the agenda of some politicians that is not family-friendly. Let us remember that we are entrusting our future and that of our families into their hands,” they said in a joint statement.
“We must resist and reject any form of incitement.”
They turned to the electoral commission which they said must ensure every step towards the polls should be credible to keep doubts at bay.
If the IEBC is to ensure credible elections, the clerics argued, it will not do it alone.
So they asked political parties and politicians to respect electoral laws.
“They have a chance to foster wide participation,” said Bishop Martin Kivuva of Mombasa.
“We call on political parties to present their manifestos to the electorate, explain them and make them available to everyone.
“We strongly advise that political parties follow provisions of political parties Act of 2011 and make them national in character.”
The pastoral letter, a commentary routinely written by the clergy to the congregation on a particular subject, was endorsed by Cardinal John Njue and the bishops across the country.
They included Philip Anyolo, Maurice Crowley, Cornelius Korir, Martin Kivuva, Anthony Muheria, and Zaccheaus Okoth, John Owaa and Joseph Okemwa.
- IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba (right) and Chairman Wafula Chebukati. They have been advised to cancel the ballot tender if there is no agreement among political players.