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Kenyan bishops urge citizens to keep peace as election tally continues

Posted By March 8, 2013 | 12:20 pm | International
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Kenya's bishops called on citizens to remain calm and peaceful as government officials continued counting votes from the country's March 4 elections. Technical problems since polls closed slowed the tally, forcing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to count ballots by hand. Under Kenya's new constitution, the commission has one week to report results.

By Francis Njuguna
Catholic News Service
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — Kenya’s bishops called on citizens to remain calm and peaceful as government officials continued counting votes from the country’s March 4 elections.
Technical problems since polls closed slowed the tally, forcing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to count ballots by hand. Under Kenya’s new constitution, the commission has one week to report results.
Election-related violence claimed 14 lives, including six police officers. But incidents of violence have been few since balloting ended, authorities said.
As the count continued March 7, the bishops issued a statement thanking Kenyans for turning out in large numbers to vote for president and local officials and for maintaining peace throughout the election period.
The bishops said they were saddened by the deaths and offered condolences while urging authorities to do all they could to track down the killers. Despite the violence, they urged Kenyans to “resume their normal work and continue building the nation.”
Following the previous presidential election in 2007, violence claimed more than 1,000 lives and left large areas of Kenya in ruins as rival ethnic groups fought over the tightly contested outcome. The disputed election led to a power-sharing agreement among Kenya’s two major political parties and a new constitution.
“These were historic elections which were waited for with much anticipation and took place at a critical moment in the country’s history,” said the statement, signed by Bishop Philip Anyolo of Homa Bay on behalf of the Kenya Episcopal Conference.
“As Kenya waits for the final poll results of various electoral positions and in particular the presidential results, we should recall the remarkable progress made over the last few years,” the statement said.
“After one of the darkest episodes in the country’s recent history, following the 2007 elections, Kenya is once again on a positive path,” the bishops said.
Commending Kenyans for working to heal the wounds of division, build national unity and shape an institutional framework to safeguard the nation’s future, the bishops said much remains to be accomplished.
“We appeal to you to remain peaceful even after the release of the results. We also appeal to you to continue praying for the successful completion of the process,” the bishops said.