Kenya

Kenya: Government is committed to peace, President Kibaki says

The Government is committed to sustainable peace and has begun instituting reforms that will guarantee justice and peace for all Kenyans, President Kibaki has said.

The President noted that following the signing of the National Accord and the subsequent formation of the Grand Coalition Government last year, the Government has made significant progress in its quest to make the country a better home for all Kenyans.

"We have begun instituting far reaching reforms that will guarantee justice and peace for all Kenyans," President Kibaki said.

President Kibaki made the remarks at the Pope's representative's residence in Nairobi during a reception hosted to commemorate the election of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Supreme Pontificate.

The President cited the establishment and implementation of the Kriegler report that paved the way for electoral reforms that began with the formation of the Independent Interim Electoral Commission of Kenya, the establishment of the Waki Commission and the efforts being made to establish a local Special tribunal to deal with those behind the election violence as some of the reforms.

President Kibaki said the Cabinet has also approved the National Land Policy that will open the way for the most comprehensive land reforms in the country's history.

The Head of Stated added that the Government has embarked on the constitutional review process with clear lessons from past efforts to ensure no hurdle blocks the exercise.

"In this respect, as a government we want the Committee of Experts on Constitutional Reforms which is collating views to complete its work within the next one year," the Head of State said.

The President, however, pointed out that while the institutional and legal reforms are pivotal in the country's desired changes, they must be matched by individual commitments to peace and stability of the nation.

President Kibaki, therefore, made a passionate appeal to the church to be at the forefront in helping Kenyans to embrace and support reforms.

Said the President: "It is true that laws govern men but it is equally true that men are guided and influenced by their hearts and souls."

Saying the reform agenda should not be the preserve of politicians or civil society, the Head of State said the church is well placed to be an active participant in the reform process and not an arm chair critic of what government does.

He thanked the leadership of the Catholic Church and the faithful across the country for their invaluable support in all national development endeavours.

The President also hailed the existing cordial relations between Kenya and the Holy See, noting that this relationship has been manifested by the three visits to Kenya by the Late Pope John Paul II.

" Kenya has also been privileged to have two Cardinals, the Late Maurice Cardinal Otunga and now John Cardinal Njue," President Kibaki said.

President Kibaki observed that the Catholic Church, through its 26 diocese, has also provided invaluable support in the area of education and health.

He commended the church for its role in helping resettle people who were displaced in the post election violence.

"The church also continues to be a leading actor in peace and reconciliation efforts," the President said.

The President also took the opportunity to urge the Catholic faithful to remain steadfast in the ideals of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on religious freedom, inter-religious dialogue, reconciliation, international peace and justice.

Speaking during the occasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga hailed the Catholic Church for playing a big role in resolving the post election crisis last year.

"The Catholic Church played a vital role in bringing Kenyans together," the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister assured the church of Government 's support in its efforts to reconcile the people of Kenya .

On his part, the Pope's representative Alain Paul Lebeaupin thanked the President and the Prime Minister for upholding the good relations between the church and state.

Earlier in the morning, President Kibaki and the Prime Minister attended a special mass presided over by the Pope's representative at the Holy Family Basilica to mark the feast of St. Peter and Paul.

Delivering the sermon, Archbishop John Cardinal Njue emphasized the need for Kenyans to repent and embrace reconciliation through faith in order to promote peace in the country.

The theme of this year's feast is 'Reconciliation, Peace and Justice in Kenya .