Catholic Bishops Seek Inclusion in Bipartisan Talks, Express Inability to Reach Ruto and Raila Amid Ongoing Protests
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has expressed their efforts to initiate talks with both President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga amidst the ongoing anti-government demonstrations. However, they have been unable to reach either leader so far.
Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday, Archbishop Martin Kivuva, the chairperson of KCCB, emphasized the organization’s willingness to engage in dialogue with both President Ruto and Raila Odinga. Their intention is to find an amicable solution that would effectively bring an end to the protests. The Catholic Church aims to foster open communication and seek resolutions that promote peace and stability in the country.
“We have tried to reach out to both of them but we have not managed to see them face to face because of the activities of this week. But if they say they are ready this week we will be there,” Archbishop Kivuva said.
Odinga’s faction has organized the ongoing protests to demonstrate against the high cost of living and the increased taxation imposed by Ruto’s administration.
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As of Wednesday, the demonstrations have entered their third round, and the opposition intends to continue holding them three days a week in the future. The decision to resume protests came after bi-partisan talks between opposition legislators and their counterparts failed to reach an agreement, with both sides pointing fingers and accusing each other of sabotage.
Amid the unrest, the clergy has stepped in and called for a resumption of talks, this time involving church leaders. They stressed the importance of peaceful dialogue and urged Kenyans to embrace non-violent methods of expressing their needs and demands. The clergy seeks to promote a constructive and peaceful approach to finding solutions and addressing the concerns of the people.
“Kenyans and our leaders must be willing to listen to each other for the sake of our country. We demand the failed bipartisan talks should be resumed in a different context that brings on board religious leaders and some eminent persons and bodies,” Nyeri Archbishop Anthony Muheria said.
“We believe there is no problem that cannot be solved without dialogue. No further blood should be shed.”
According to the Catholic Bishops, their view is that President Ruto should repeal the Finance Act, which has sparked outrage among Kenyans due to the additional levies it includes.
Archbishop Muheria pointed out that the Act, which was signed in June, places an overwhelming burden on citizens who are already facing financial distress, particularly those in the low-income bracket. The Act’s provisions have been a significant source of concern for the public, and the Catholic Bishops are urging the President to reconsider and repeal it to ease the financial strain on the population.
“We ask the president to repeal the Finance Act and institute a process that will seek to achieve the same goals in the context of the current economic situation,” said Muheria.