Rift Valley politicians led by Deputy President William Ruto were on Saturday united in calling for conflict resolution among warring communities during the installation of the new Eldoret Catholic Bishop Dominic Kimengich.
They steered clear of the politics of the ongoing rivalry over the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies, prioritising peace-building initiatives in the region.
They said that retrogressive politics is the cause of slow development in the region. “There is a need for a close working relationship between the State and religious organisations in terms of development, instead of engaging in divisive politics,” said Dr Ruto.
He read a message from President Uhuru Kenyatta, who said the government will continue working with religious organisations in promoting peace and development.
“What Kenyans need are visionary leaders devoid of corruption … where all Kenyans are united with a common goal of improving their livelihoods.”
Bishop Kimengich takes over from Bishop Cornelius Korir, who died two years ago.
CHURCH AND STATE
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who also attended the ceremony at the Mother of Apostles Seminary, praised Bishop Kimengich for helping the needy in society and urged other leaders to emulate him.
“The Church and the State have a role in fostering peace among the warring communities through development initiatives, and the new bishop has to take up the peace role of the late Bishop Korir,” Mr Moi said.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos and Moiben MP Sila Tiren, who are steering the BBI consultative rallies in Rift Valley, have been at loggerheads with their counterparts allied to the Deputy President.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago asked speakers to keep politics out of the important church function. “A time will come where we shall square it out on BBI issues,” said the outspoken governor.
Cabinet secretaries who attended the event were Eugene Wamalwa of Devolution, John Munyes of Mining, Charles Keter of Energy and Simon Chelugui of Labour.
Others were governors Josephat Nanok of Turkana, Stephen Sang of Nandi and Baringo’s Simon Kiptis.
The senators present were Samson Cherargei of Nandi and Prof Margaret Kamar of Uasin Gishu.
The head of the Catholic Church Cardinal John Njue and clerics from other religious denominations were also at the event.
The new bishop was also installed as a Kalenjin elder in a ceremony performed by elders from the Nandi, Tugen, Marakwet, Kikuyu and Keiyo communities.
The elders and the faithful hailed Bishop Kimengich, who takes over from Bishop Maurice Antony Crowley, who has been serving the diocese as an administrator following the death of Bishop Korir.
Bishop Kimengich vowed to forge ahead with the work of the late Bishop Korir in championing peace among warring communities in Northern Kenya and other regions.
“I will put efforts to ensure that I carry on with the work of Bishop Korir, especially in uniting all the communities because we are all the children of God, we belong to one family. It is sad that communities in the North Rift don’t coexist peacefully,” said the Bishop.
The cleric served as the Lodwar Diocese bishop before he was moved to Eldoret and was involved in peace efforts among the warring communities in the region and neighbouring countries.
On Friday, the new bishop kissed the ground after crossing the Moi Bridge to herald the beginning of his work in the new diocese. He also planted a tree at St Theresa Catholic Church Moi’s Bridge.
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