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Clergy want integrity laws applied on Political Office seekers

The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) has asked Members of Parliament to approve proposed laws governing elections to lock out those whose fail integrity test ahead of the next polls.

IRCK Chairman Reverend Father Joseph Mutie said the proposed amendments to bar political aspirants with pending graft cases eyeing political positions was a step in the right direction in tackling impunity and corruption in Kenya.

While speaking during the launch of a Scripture-Referenced Anti-Corruption Booklet at Saint Mary’s Pastoral Center in Nakuru, Father Mutie also urged religious leaders to bar politicians from making huge financial contributions to their institutions.

Present during the event that was officiated by Office of Attorney General and Department of Justice Chief Administrative Secretary Professor Ntiba Micheni were IRCK Peace and Governance Sub-Committee Chairman Bishop Cyrus Mugoh and Deputy County Commissioner Michael Lesimam.

Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK)  Chairman Reverend Father Joseph Mutie (Left), Office of Attorney General and Department of Justice Chief Administrative Secretary Professor Ntiba Micheni (Center) and other participants during the launch of a Scripture-Referenced Anti-Corruption Booklet at Saint Mary’s Pastoral Center in Nakuru.

Various participants who spoke during the event noted that more than 15 serving MPs had active graft and other economic crimes-related cases against them in court, while some unscrupulous public officials from National and County governments were openly demanding bribes from members of the public.

Father Mutie noted that the Bill sponsored by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi seeking to amend sections 23, 24, and 25 of the Elections Act will restore faith and confidence of Kenyans in the polling process if enacted into law.

The bill proposes that a person be disqualified for nomination as a presidential candidate if the individual has been formally charged in a court of law for an offence related to corruption or economic crimes and the case has not been finalized.

Article 99 of the Constitution disqualifies a person from being elected a Member of Parliament if the person is subject to a sentence of imprisonment of at least six months, as at the date of registration as a candidate, or at the date of the election.

However, the law has a rider that a person is not disqualified unless all possibility of appeal or review of the sentence has been exhausted.

This loophole has allowed individuals charged with offences to seek elective seats despite the cases going on in court.

The IRCK Chairman expressed concern that aspirants for political seats have also exploited the principle of presumption of innocence to get clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The legal principle holds that every person accused of any crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. As such, a prosecutor is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime if that person is to be convicted.

The Scripture-Referenced Anti-Corruption Booklet was developed jointly by the National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee and Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

The Booklet titled the Faith Communities Against Corruption derives its contents from Bible, the Koran and the Gita, Holy Books used by Christians, Muslims and Hindus respectively.

Professor Micheni said the Kenyan society was also faced by cases of corruption cutting across communities and sectors.

 He pointed out that corruption was a threat to social, economic and political development whose negative effects are felt across the country.

The CAS added “We are called upon by our national laws and ethos to uphold integrity and the Holy Books urges us to reach out to the partakers and enablers of corruption. It is a continuous message aimed at behavioral change and adhering to the standards set by the Holy Books and laws,”

 Professor Micheni emphasized the need to promote anti-corruption activities and a culture of integrity right from kindergartens to tertiary institutions to make Kenya a corrupt-free nation.

 “We want to inculcate in Kenya a culture that is fiercely against corruption. We believe that once people are taught ethics at a tender age, it will help them to grow up with morals and when they have morality it helps in fighting corruption,” he affirmed. 

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