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Statement on Kenya initiatives to overcome violence

The World Council of Churches welcomes the initiative taken by people of faith all across Kenya to continue praying for a peaceful end to the crisis that swept through the country following the violent aftermath of the recent elections.

10 January 2008

9 January 2008

The World Council of Churches welcomes the initiative taken by people of faith all across Kenya to continue praying for a peaceful end to the crisis that swept through the country following the violent aftermath of the recent elections.

While the situation continues to be critical, some signs of hope can be seen. In the context of diffusing tension and promoting a constructive dialogue between the parties, we welcome the decision of Hon. Raila Odinga to call off public rallies and we are pleased that President Kibaki has invited opposition leader Raila Odinga and religious leaders to a meeting on Friday as well as Ghanaian President John Kufuor, in his position as the AU chairman, to visit the country.

We hope that his visit will help break the political stalemate and that his efforts to get President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to meet and work toward ending the country's crisis and moving toward healing and national reconciliation will be met with success. Peace efforts should be supported by the government, the opposition and the whole civil society. We call on the political leaders, especially President Kibaki and Hon. Raila Odinga, to refrain from taking decisions that might frustrate the process towards dialogue for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

At the same time we want to recognize and applaud how the churches of Kenya are doing their part in pursuing the common good of their communities and country. There is an urgent need to put an end to the mayhem of violence and the churches of Kenya know they have a leading role to play in the process of peace, reconciliation and healing.

Churches should be on the front line in ensuring respect for human life and seeking peace and reconciliation. This is a time when the ministry of healing and reconciliation of the churches is deeply needed in the country.

During the last weeks churches have been strongly involved in resolving the situation and calling for peace. It was through the hard work of the general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches and other religious leaders that Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu was able to visit Kenya at the height of the violence and initiate the process of dialogue between the government and opposition.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) sponsored a peace march held last Saturday while churches throughout the country joined in prayers for peace in Sunday services. Church leaders must continue to rise above ethnic differences and politics and call for an end to the disputes.

We appeal to churches around the world to continue to pray for the Kenyan people and churches and to provide humanitarian aid through ecumenical partners in Kenya to communities affected by the violence.

The World Council of Churches continues to monitor closely the developments in the country and praises the work of the Kenyan churches. We encourage them to continue their witness. For our part, the WCC is preparing a Living Letters delegation to visit the country in the coming weeks for the purpose of showing the solidarity of churches around the world with our brothers and sisters in Kenya.

Living Letters is part of the WCC initiative Decade to Overcome Violence. Teams of international church leaders visit churches in situations of conflict offering support and encouragement in overcoming violence.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General secretary
World Council of Churches