Fear of Violence Looms Over Next Week’s Presidential Election in Kenya
Citizens of Kenya will go to the polls on Thursday to cast their votes. Please pray for Kenya as the country prepares to elect a new president, a parliament, governors and other local politicians.
Tensions are high as the contest between the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga heats up. Their campaigns have been ethnically polarizing and observers fear unrest may break out as it did following the 2007 elections, when more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 displaced from their homes.
But will peaceful elections be enough? Kwame Owino, Chief Executive of Kenya’s Institute of Economic Affairs, told the Guardian that Kenyans should have higher aspirations than merely peaceful elections. “I’m tired of this idea—will the elections be peaceful or not? That’s not the only result that we expect. We have a very ambitious constitution, so to simply say that we have a result and we have no violence, that’s setting a very low bar for ourselves. I think we should be more ambitious and say we’ll have a peaceful election, we’ll have a legitimate presidency, we’ll have a successful transition because there’s also the parliamentary elections. And we expect to reach the two-thirds gender goals that the constitution has set for us—all that.”
The Open Doors researcher in the region reported that “Christians in the Muslim-dominated northeastern and coastal towns like Garissa, Mpeketoni and Mombasa, asked us to join them in praying for peaceful elections there. They also asked us to pray for protection. Christians form a sizable minority in these regions, making their vote rather important. While they have received election promises from [local] candidates for protection and greater inclusion, they have also received veiled threats from supporters to not mess up the elections by voting for the wrong candidates. They really need our prayer support right now.”
Father, as memories of the 2007 elections in Kenya fill many minds with fear today, we turn to You, our good and all-powerful God, for peace and protection for the people of Kenya during the elections tomorrow and in the days that follow. We pray for fair and honest elections and for candidates and supporters alike to accept the results. And as the new administration is formed, we pray for a peaceful transition, for good governance and for transparency within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. In Muslim-dominated areas, we pray that God will strengthen and protect Christians and grant them courage and wisdom as they vote. And as Open Doors partners continue to travel and minister to the people of Kenya, we pray for the Lord’s protection over them. Strengthen Your church to stand against the destructive political environment and instead to offer an objective, restraining, healing and encouraging voice during these crucial elections. May the reflection of Christ in them shine forth and draw many into true, saving faith. In the name of Jesus, who loves justice and establishes equity (from Psalm 99). Amen.