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 CNS Story:

KENYA-ELECTIONS Nov-16-2012 (330 words) xxxi

Bishops urge Kenyans to choose candidates with integrity

By Francis Njuguna
Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- In a country where two of the presidential candidates are wanted by the International Criminal Court, Kenya's Catholic bishops urged voters to ensure to vote for people of high integrity when they go to polls for general elections March 4.

They told voters to avoid candidates with a track record of corruption and violence and said "unfit candidates" did not fear God and did not follow or respect the law. Others who are not fit for office include people involved in illegal and illicit business and those who have used others or paid others to commit a crime.

"Kenyan voters should also not elect persons who preach or induce others to violence and hatred, by word or action, as well as persons who have been involved in drug trafficking and peddling," the bishops said in a statement.

The bishops also advised against voting for candidates who keep changing their position on important national issues.

Father Vincent Wambugu, secretary-general of the bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service that the bishops were simply trying to guide voters.

"The bishops do not intend to dictate to the voters as to whom they should vote. On the contrary, the bishops felt strongly that they should give them some guidelines on the issue," he said.

Father Wambugu said the bishops were concerned that some candidates had questionable integrity.

"We should not expect any good leadership from those who have compromised their integrity," the bishops said in their statement.

About 20 candidates -- including a few women -- have declared they are running for president of Kenya in the first elections since the country enacted its new constitution. Kenya's bishops reportedly have been quietly lobbying for more women to seek public office.

Two presidential candidates -- Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto -- are among four Kenyans facing charges in the International Criminal Court for their involvement in post-election violence after the 2007 election. Nearly 800 Kenyans died and at least 600,000 were displaced in that violence.


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