A number of Christian and Muslim leaders in Kenya have called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to punish those behind the 2007 to 2008 post-election violence that tore apart the country, regardless of the positions of the perpetrators - writes Fredrick Nzwili.
The religious leaders say that the beginning of the ICC's investigations in Kenya, plus the presence of Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in the east African country, are "a blessing", and proper punishment would deter any future violence.
"It (Ocampo's arrival) is a blessing because there are issues that have to be addressed in this country," Roman Catholic Cardinal John Njue told journalists on 11 May in Nairobi. "When certain problems remain as they are … they always become a source of pain in the community."
The religious leaders met Ocampo on 11 May in the Kenyan capital, and submitted their views to him. The prosecutor is in Kenya to lead investigations and to meet some victims.
"We called on him to punish the perpetrators of the post-election violence irrespective of their government positions," said Catholic Bishop Philip Sulumeti after the meeting.
Sheikh Abdullahi Kiptanui, a vice-chairperson of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, said, "We fully back the punishing of the perpetrators. We are ready to work with Christians."
At the same time, Ocampo told Kenya's Standard newspaper that he had urged the religious leaders to use their positions to unite the country. He had also told them, "Do not rely on the ICC to bring harmony. You, too, have a role to play." He added he would only be prosecuting two to six cases.
When he arrived on 8 May, the international official said he considered churches and religious groups as crucial sources of information for the ICC about the election-related violence, in which over 1300 people died more than two years ago.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]