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Elections in Kenya pass peacefully

10 August 2022

Church leaders urge candidates ‘to accept the will of the people’

Alamy

An official of the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission pours out votes for counting at a polling station in Nairobi on Tuesday

An official of the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission pours out votes for counting at a polling station in Nairobi on Tuesday

ELECTION day in Kenya passed without fears of widespread violence being realised, although three days after the vote a decisive result had still not been delivered.

The results that have been counted so far indicate a closely fought race between a veteran opposition leader, Raila Odinga, and the outgoing Deputy President, William Ruto. By law, the electoral commission has a week to announce the final results.

On Friday afternoon, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), which includes the Anglican Church of Kenya, released a joint statement with the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). “We take this moment to commend Kenyans for conducting themselves honorably during the campaign period,” the statement said, and urged both voters and candidates to remain patient.

On Wednesday morning, following polling day, the NCCK and KCCB had released a statement thanking people for voting peacefully in the previous day’s polls.

“We thank God that the whole process has so far been encouraging,” the statement read. “We encourage both winners and losers to accept the will of the people. . . No one should incite Kenyans to engage in violence on account of the election result.”

At the end of July, the NCCK urged religious leaders to stay impartial, and told Kenyans not to lay down their lives “on account of elections that come and go” (News, 29 July).

Previous elections in Kenya have been mired by disputes over the validity of the election, and outbreaks of violence. The statement from the NCCK and KCCB noted that elections were “suspended in some part of the country”, and called on “voters and candidates in the affected areas to remain peaceful and patient” while logistical issues are resolved.

The New York Times reported that in the Rift Valley, a site of violent clashes after previous election, fewer people had fled their homes in expectation of violence than in previous years. BBC News, however, has reported that an MP is on the run in western Kenya after apparently shooting the bodyguard of an election rival.

Among the main issues in the election was the increased cost of living. Prices for some staple foods have risen by as much as 50 per cent since last year, and look set to continue rising as the food crisis in East Africa worsens (News, 5 August).

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