Kenya Bishops Spell Out Nation's Needs

Pastoral Letter Looks Toward Post-Moi Era

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NAIROBI, Kenya, AUG. 29, 2002 ( Kenya’s Catholic bishops say the country’s next president should be a person with the «ability to unite and motivate the different groups of the nation» and to reactivate the economy.

With general elections scheduled later this year, the bishops’ conference issued a pastoral letter Wednesday expressing their concerns for the nation.

The clergy is concerned about the country’s political and institutional difficulties, the Misna agency reported. Daniel arap Moi, 78, president since 1978, is nearing the end of his term.

The race for his successor began months ago, with Moi himself designating Uhuru Kenyatta, son of former President Jomo Kenyatta, as the person to succeed him.

The bishops’ pastoral letter also mentions the ongoing reform of the Constitution. «We hope that the Commission for the Review of the Constitution, which has invested a considerable amount of time and resources, will complete its work and present a correct and just document to the people,» the letter said.

The bishops appeal to the authorities to allow all candidates to carry out their campaigns freely. But they instruct the local clergy to abstain from aligning themselves politically or from offering venues to candidates.

On a hopeful note, the bishops contend «the signs of the times» indicate that Africa is moving slowly but steadily from the traditional «tribal» system to a «nations» system. There is no more room for «tribalism, sectarianism or parochialism,» they state.

The episcopal document points out the principal problems facing Kenya, including a stagnant economy, lack of medicines, poor education, AIDS and unemployment. They also mention human rights, security and protection of the environment, insisting that future leaders must «suggest realistic and viable solutions to these problems.»

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