Catholic Bishops of the Kenya Conference have attempted to engage President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga in dialogue amidst ongoing anti-government protests, but their efforts have thus far been unsuccessful.
Addressing the media in Nairobi, Archbishop Martin Kivuva, chairperson of the KCCB, expressed their willingness to sit down with the two leaders to find an amicable solution to bring an end to the protests. However, due to the busy schedule of both leaders this week, face-to-face meetings have not been possible. Nevertheless, the Bishops remain open to meeting them whenever they are available.
The demonstrations were initiated by Raila Odinga’s faction to protest against the high cost of living and increased taxation imposed by President Ruto’s administration. These protests have now entered their third round, with plans to continue three days a week in the future. After bipartisan talks between opposition and government legislators failed, both sides accused each other of sabotage, leading to a deadlock.
The clergy, on the other hand, is calling for the resumption of talks, advocating for the inclusion of church leaders in the dialogue. They firmly believe that non-violent means should be adopted by Kenyans in expressing their needs and demands. Nyeri Archbishop Anthony Muheria emphasized the importance of listening to one another for the sake of the country and urged the failed bipartisan talks to be resumed with the involvement of religious leaders and eminent figures.
The primary demand from the Catholic Bishops is for President Ruto to repeal the controversial Finance Act, which has sparked outrage among Kenyans due to the additional levies it imposes. The Act, signed in June, places an unsustainable burden on already economically distressed citizens, particularly those in the low-income bracket. Archbishop Muheria urged the President to consider alternative solutions that address the country’s economic situation without placing further hardships on its people.