Religious Leaders in Garissa Call for Peace and Commit to Foster Cohesion Ahead of Elections in Kenya
|7th June 2022|
Faith and Clan leaders from the North-Eastern region of Kenya have called for peace and committed to preach peace within and outside their places of worship ahead of a potentially turbulent election period.
The meeting convened by the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) in conjunction with local Christian leaders brought together 24 influential leaders of different faiths, at the Palm Oasis Resort, Garissa County on the 4th of June 2022.
In his opening remarks, the Chair of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), Abdullahi Salat thanked AEA for convening the meeting and heralded the dialogue meeting as a key driver for peace in the North-Eastern region of Kenya. The chair of SUPKEM gave a historical account of how a few years ago insecurity was a major problem in Garissa county. He spoke of when bandit strikes were frequent and more recently, how the area had experienced Al Shabaab terrorist attacks. He went on to affirm that currently, the situation of extremist groups is mostly under control and peace is now relatively prevalent.
He said, “In previous years ‘down-country’ (a term referring to Kenyans who live outside North Eastern and Coastal regions) people being posted to North Kenya was a thing to cause major worry, but many stayed and rose up in the ranks of their various careers.”
The devastating attacks at Garissa University left scores of Christian students and faculty dead ushering in a dark period within the county. He narrated how the interfaith security committee has laboured for peace noting that the interfaith and security teams ought to be appreciated, recalling the number of times they have worked amidst death threats, but had a strong resolution to put an end to extremism in the region.
Jesse Okiru, OCS Iftin, Garissa County
In attendance was the Kenya Police Service representative, Jesse Okiru, who is the Officer Commanding Station (OCS) of Iftiin Ward, Garissa. He urged religious leaders to assist security agencies with timely incident reports of violence and to support the police in maintaining the rule of law in the county. He gave a security report highlighting the likelihood of violence in 19 polling stations in Iftin, Waberi, Galbet and Township wards in the county.
Rev. Lazarus Katiso, leading the Christian Community in the region, led a session that outlined the indicators of violence in the region. The leaders pointed out core indicators of violence ahead of the elections; Land conflicts, Tribal clashes, Hate speech on social media, Propaganda and a lack of commitment to intervene in some of these conflicts by religious leaders.
Practical actions for peace were also put forward during the dialogue meeting with leaders. Muslim leaders committed to ushering in a three-month period of preaching peace ahead of the holy months in the Muslim calendar. Christian leaders also resolved to be courageous, non-partisan and to re-evaluate their roles in establishing the peace infrastructure in the region. Leaders also jointly committed to engaging the youth within their faith communities on their expectations ahead of the elections and to holding relevant institutions accountable where justice is not upheld.
This meeting was one of the many that AEA plans to hold in a number of counties as mitigation to promote peace before, during and post the August 2022 General elections. Interfaith dialogue, prayers, and peace messages are some of the planned activities.
AEA headquarters, Nairobi 09 June 2022
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