Catholic and Anglican Church leaders in Kenya have called on the country’s government to stop the recent spate of killings in the Mount Elgon district of Kenya’s Western Province.
Six people were killed over the weekend in the district as violent clashes broke out over land settlements. The attacks have been blamed on a group calling itself the Sabaot Land Defence Force.
The Catholic archbishop of Nairobi, the Most Rev Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki, has demanded that Kenya’s Internal Security minister John Michuki visit the troubled area or face dismissal for his failure to halt the violence.
"In my opinion, Mr Michuki should go there and come back and tell us what he has seen. If he does not, apigwe kalamu (let him be sacked)," a’Nzeki told hundreds of worshippers who were gathered at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi for Easter prayers, according to Nairobi’s East African Standard newspaper.
Calls for Michuki’s dismissal have also come from 13 Rift Valley MPs who said the security minister "was not doing anything".
"Michuki is busy recruiting provincial administrators to campaign for Narc-Kenya, and the death of 150 people and destruction of property does not seem anything to him," they said.
At the All Saints Cathedral, meanwhile, Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi condemned the lawlessness and killings in the Mount Elgon district, calling for peace and a quick response from political leaders.
But even as the clergymen spoke Sunday, further skirmishes broke out in the Tana River area leaving three dead and prompting hundreds of villagers to flee their homes.
General elections in Kenya are becoming synonymous with violence and unrest and much of the condemnation this time has been directed at Michuki.
In his Easter sermon, Nzimbi said the clashes were politically-instigated and called on believers to pray for the nation’s leaders and the unfortunate victims of the conflict.
"The resurrection of Christ gives us [a] hope and encouragement we should also share with the unfortunate in society to encourage them,” he exhorted.
"The president and all leaders need encouragement. We should also remember the suffering in Kuresoi and Marsabit, which has never known undisturbed peace," he said in his message to Kenyans as he called on politicians and the public to seize the Easter mood and reach out to victims of the clashes.
Christians across Kenya packed into churches to mark an Easter Sunday dominated by prayers for peace in the conflict-rife Mount Elgon district.
The clashes in the Mount Elgon district have left at least 137 people dead, while around 45,000 people have been displaced from their homes.