NAIROBI, Kenya — A group of Catholic bishops called on the government to make a deliberate effort to reconcile the country’s factions in the face of sporadic violence that has left more than 50 people dead in November.
Members of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Kenya Episcopal Conference warned that if ongoing insecurity persists, the country faces widening rifts that likely will lead to new attacks on police forces and community leaders.
Addressing journalists after the commission met Nov. 20, Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu, commission chairman, and Bishop Cornelius Arap Korir of Eldoret, said the violence poses a serious threat to Kenya’s national security.
“The killing of over 40 security officers in northern Kenya and over eight Kenyans a few days later in Nairobi are chilling and shocking,” Archbishop Okoth said.
“We have watched in shock and disbelief as other groups engage in alleged revenge missions only to turn into looting sprees causing unnecessary deaths, mayhem and destruction of property,” he added.
Both bishops said the country’s security has sunk to alarming levels and requires a lasting solution that only the national government can develop.
“The laxity of the executive in handling the deaths of security officers is very disturbing,” Archbishop Okoth said. “We demand more from the government beyond promises of funeral expenses.”
Bishop Korir told reporters the killings violate biblical principles and that action was needed to avoid repeat incidents.
“It’s saddening that the violence is taking a new angle,” he said. “Guns are involved and we want the government to establish the origins, manufacturers of the country of supply.”
Bishop Korir told Catholic News Service that he believed the government was responsible to promote peaceful coexistence among Kenya’s various ethnic communities and to promote the development of the country.
“If security people are being killed then it is risky for ordinary citizens, since those who are supposed to provide security are at risk. The government must address the same,” he said.