Thursday, August 27, 2009

University Don: Genuine Reforms Key to Lasting Peace

It is only through long-term reforms that Kenya will address the deep-rooted causes of conflicts, a university don has said.

Dr. Robert Mudida, a lecture at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, University of Nairobi singled out comprehensive constitutional review as the main way to address most of the underlying concerns in the country.

Addressing a workshop of the superiors of 64 religious Orders based in Kenya but working all over Eastern Africa in Nairobi on Wednesday, August 26, 2009, Dr. Mudida expressed fear that unless institutions of governance are strengthened, Kenya faces a threat of sliding back into much worse crisis than that bedeviled the country early in 2008.

“ We know what problems are, and what are the solutions, but the issue is in the implementation, and that is why we should continue with the pressure over the political class,” he said.

The two-day workshop held from August 25, 2009, was aimed at establishing Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR), a Religious Superiors Conference of Kenya (RSCK) initiative geared towards assisting in conflict resolution and reconciliation processes in Kenya, according to the RSCK Chairman Fr. Patrick Devine, SMA, who is also one of the three directors of SCCRR.

A concept paper on the initiative has it that the center will concentrate its activities at the grass root to effectively consolidate peace and promote healing among different warring communities.

Conflict still needs to be followed up by the processes of reconciliation among parties so that peace can endure, the paper states.

Dr. Mudida, also another SCCRR director illustrated the role of the church in the initiative: “The church is very influential at the grass root and therefore holds a vital role in the reconciliation process in this country. For true reconciliation, there must be truth, mercy, justice and peace, and the role of church in this need not to be emphasized.”

SCCRR has been a resultant of the a need to find resolutions to recurrent conflicts among the pastoral communities, especially in Northern Kenya, as well as the traumatic experiences after the 2008 post election violence in the country.

Bishop Patrick Harrington of Lodwar diocese (inhabited by Turkanas), which experiences major conflicts among the pastoral communities as a result of cattle rustling and competition for resources including livestock food and water reservoirs, expressed support for SCCRR initiative, saying there is need to seek to understand root causes of the conflicts and possess the necessary skills to resolve then in order to yield true peace.

“This is especially true when people are being killed on daily basis, maimed and displaced while schools and hospitals are made inoperable,” he said.

And at a remote and conflict prone Turkwel parish in Lodwar Diocese, Fr. Oliver Noonan said that Gospel and its values regarding peace; justice, development and integrity of creation cannot take root in such conflicting environment.

“We would be very open to spend quality time in looking at such conflicts in Turkana. I wish to support all the efforts that can be made in such valuable and vital work by the “Shalom Centre” (SCCRR). We offer our utmost encouragement and collaboration,” he said.

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