May 31, 2016

KENYA: Religious Leaders call for Urgent Political Solution to Electoral Commission Dispute

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NAIROBI MAY 27, 2016 (CISA) — The religious leaders in Kenya have come together to urge for an urgent political solution to the dispute around the Electoral Commission ahead of the General Elections of 2017.

In a press statement read in part by Rt Rev Philip Anyolo, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and Reverend Canon Peter Karanja the General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) the religious leaders appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta, “Whose mandate rises above party, ethnic and sectoral interests, to support structured discussions with the opposition in person and in addition help create a structure for engagement of other stakeholders”

“We urge the leadership of the ruling coalition Jubilee to genuinely reach out to CORD and soberly engage on the issues raised and build consensus on the management of the next election. We wish to remind Jubilee, CORD and other political parties that Kenyans will hold them accountable should the country slide back to anarchy because of unyielding competing political interests,” said the religious leaders.

The religious leaders representing the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), National Muslim Leaders Forum (NAMLEF), Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), Hindu Council of Kenya (HCK), Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) were addressing the press from St. Joseph Retreat Centre, Karen where they gathered to reflect on the state of the nation ahead of the 2017 General Elections.

“Having analyzed the situation keenly, we are concerned that the political grand standing exhibited by the two main political formations, especially the dispute around the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), is a threat to national peace, cohesion and unity of Kenyans,” the religious leaders said.

“We believe that an urgent political solution is required to avert an imminent crisis that could complicate next year’s election and plunge the country into election violence,” the leaders said.

While condoling with the families of those who died in the latest demonstrations by the Coalition of Reform and Democracy (CORD) to remove IEBC from office, the leaders called on “the political coalitions and their respective leadership to reconsider the current political grandstanding over the term of office of IEBC Commissioners and tone down their rhetoric for the common good of our nation.”

“We thank and appreciate the CORD leadership for calling of the weekly demonstrations. We further urge them to unconditionally call off the planned parallel Madaraka Day event… In the same breath, we appeal to the government to formally invite the CORD Principals to the National Madaraka Day event.”

The Coalition of Reforms for Democracy (CORD) has since May 9, been holding demonstrations every Monday in an attempt to remove the Electoral Commission from office.

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KENYA: Focolare President Calls for Culture of Unity in Africa

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NAIROBI MAY 27, 2016(CISA) – Maria Voce, President of the Focolare movement has called for promotion of culture of unity and understanding in Africa.

She said that it was important to promote “the charism of unity especially among students in order to survive in the contemporary society we are living in today.”

“Culture of unity has given a very important contribution to the academic world and in the interreligious dialogue with people including those who are not religious  living together in unity,” she told Law Students at a public lecture at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi May 25.

She further noted that the Focolare movement was intending to collaborate with institutions to ensure that it corroborates everyone to make a new Christian unity in the world.

“With all the institutions all over the world that follow also the same cause as the Catholic University we will ensure that we have them on board such that the culture of unity is also welcomed by civil world and society in the world as a whole,” said Maria Voce at the parked CUEA auditorium.

She was speaking at the university as a chief guest speaker during the university’s Bi-weekly Law Presentations on the theme “Law in Contemporary society.”

Addressing journalists before the beginning of the talks to the students, Ms Voce noted that the future of the church was in Africa going by the increase in the number of vocations and members joining the movement in the continent.

The President of Focolare and the co-president Jesús Morán begun their visit to Kenya on May 14, 2016 – June 1, 2016 with the focus on addressing Inculturation, family, ecumenism are among other key issues.

She will end her visit with a meeting with the Focolare communities from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, and inauguration of Mary of the Light Church in Kenya on May 28 -29.

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KENYA: CUEA Installs New Vice Chancellor

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NAIROBI MAY 27, 2016 (CISA) – Prof Justus Gitari Mbae was on May 26 installed as the new Vice Chancellor (VC) of Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi.

Prof Mbae effectively takes over from Monsignor Dr Pius Rutechura who has since been appointed to other responsibilities in the Church back in Bukoba Diocese Tanzania.

The installation of the new VC was presided over by Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba, Chairman of the university council.

“By the power invested in me as the Chairman of the university council and now representing the councilor I invite you to take the oath of office to serve the university and the people of God in the region and beyond,” Bishop Muhatia of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru stated during the ceremony.

“Do you accept the offer being granted to you to serve as Vice Chancellor of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa,” asked the bishop.

“By the grace of God I do accept the offer,” responded Prof Mbae.

Prof Mbae in his address thanked the university council for nominating him for the position of Vice Chancellor “for this very prestigious university” and the executive board of Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) for accepting that nomination.

“Please accept my gratitude, respect and appreciation for the trust that you have placed on my shoulders,” he stated during the ceremony that was preceded by a thanksgiving Mass for the 938 graduating students of the university.

Prof Mbae has served as Deputy VC Academics at the university for four years. Before his appointment as the Deputy VC for Academics, Prof Mbae served at the Embassy of the United States in Nairobi as the Educational and Cultural Affairs Specialist, a position he held from 1993 to 2010.

He also worked at Kenyatta University, first as lecturer and later as senior lecturer and chairman at the department of educational foundations from 1981 to 1990 and from 1990 to 1993 respectively.

He holds a PhD in Philosophy from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, which he received in 1990.

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KENYA: Electoral Body Meets Religious Leaders, Asks for Fair Hearing

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NAIROBI, MAY 26, 2016(CISA) – The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission on May 26 met the Inter- religious Council of Kenya as part of the on-going stakeholder engagement on election management and the debate on electoral reforms.

During the meeting, the commission urged all the parties involved to accord them a fair hearing and involvement, so that any dialogue initiative is not prejudiced.

The commission also assured the religious leaders of their commitment to follow the Constitution in addressing all genuine grievances raised against the IEBC.

“The commission appreciates their concerns, their role and their impartiality in the on-going debate about the future of the commission,” Capital FM quoted the IEBC Communications Manager Andrew Limo as saying.

Some of the organizations serving under the Inter-religious Council of Kenya include The Hindu Council of Kenya, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims.

Others are the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, National Council of Churches of Kenya, Seventh Day Adventists, Organization of African Indigenous Churches and Ithnashari Muslim Association.

“We presented them with our road map to 2017 and the activities being undertaken towards the next General Election next year. We assured them of our commitment to our constitutional mandate and that we have answers to any genuine grievance against us,” Limo said.

“We agreed to hold regular meetings in future to address any other emerging issues.”

The electoral body’s commissioners are under pressure from the Opposition to vacate office, a move that has seen a series of protests in various parts of the country.

On Thursday, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy however suspended next Monday’s anti-IEBC protests to pave way for dialogue.

A statement issued Wednesday afternoon indicated that the protests have been suspended for a week to give dialogue and peace a chance.

“In recent days, there have been mounting calls for dialogue. The church and the international community have called for dialogue, which is what CORD has advocated since 2014,” the coalition said.

“We remain ready for and committed to dialogue as the best path out of the crisis facing our nation,” it pointed out.

The suspension comes amid pressure from diplomats and church leaders who favour dialogue to resolve the IEBC stalemate as opposed to violent protests which have led to the killing of at least three people.

“We shall dedicate next week to the pursuit of peace, justice and dialogue with prayers for peace at Uhuru Park. Our supporters in the counties will hold similar prayers in churches, mosques, temples and sanctuaries with specific appeal for peace and justice to prevail,” the statement from the coalition explained.

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KENYA: Follow Good Example of Blessed Irene, Archbishop tells Faithful

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NYERI MAY 24, 2016(CISA)- Archbishop Peter Kairo of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri has called on the faithful to follow the good example of Blessed Irene “Nyaatha”.

The Archbishop was speaking during the occasion of the first anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Irene Stefani “Nyaatha” on May 23 at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.

“What legacy can we learn from Blessed Irene Nyaatha? She really lived her motto All for Jesus, Nothing for me,” said Archbishop Kairo during his homily.

“She lived her simple life like Christ; she was friendly, kind and compassionate to all the people she served, and because for her companionate love, the Christians nicknamed her Nyaatha – The merciful mother.”

“In our Christian lives there are many challenges, but just like Blessed Irene Nyaatha endured all the suffering while doing her missionary work at Gikondi and wherever she was sent, so can you also follow her good example and ask the lord to help us carry our various crosses,” the Archbishop added.

The occasion was characterized by the launching of Blessed Irene Stefani “Nyaatha” Scholarship and Bursary fund for needy and poor students of Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, opening of Blessed Irene Stefani “Nyaatha” shrine at the university compound both of which are initiatives of the university chaplaincy headed by Fr Prof Donatus Mathenge.

The event was attended by men and women religious, faithful, student and faculty from Dedan Kimathi University of technology led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Paul Ndirangu Kioni and students from Sr Irene Girls Secondary School – Gikondi.

Also present was Fr Hieronymus Joya, regional Superior, Consolata Missionaries.

Sr Irene Stefani was declared as Blessed on May 23, 2015 at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in a ceremony officiated by Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, the Papal delegate for the beatification making her the first to be beatified on Kenyan soil.

The historic occasion was witnessed by close to 100,000 people and viewed live on TV by millions across the world.

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