Bible Society of Kenya appeals for prayer

The Bible Society of Kenya asked for prayers on Tuesday as a quick solution to the post-election crisis slipped further out of reach.

Elizabeth Muriuki, the General Secretary of the Bible Society of Kenya, has asked that people pray for President Mwai Kibaki and the leader of the opposition Raila Odinga, who remain at loggerheads over the disputed outcome of the December 27 election that secured Kibaki's re-election and triggered mass violence and rioting.

More than one week later, as many as 500 people are believed to have died in the ethnic violence and clashes between police and protesters. Looters have only added to the fatal mix, to the dismay of ordinary Kenyans who have crossed the borders into Uganda or sought refuge in schools and churches.

"The general elections resulted in chaos we have never experienced in our lives," said Muriuki. "Innocent people lost their lives and thousands were displaced from their homes. We are calling on all of you to join us in prayer that God may intervene."

Churches were filled on Sunday with thousands of Kenyans worn down by the turmoil and praying that God would intervene in the country that was until last month's election regarded as a bulwark of democracy and economic progress on the largely volatile African continent.

"We are praying for peace which only God can give us," she continued. "Above all, the escalation of the political problem is due to a lack of personal commitment to God by the perpetrators. Please pray that they may know God in a personal way."

Outbreaks of violence and demonstrations on the streets of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, have prevented most Bible Society staff there from reaching the office, which remains open and manned by three staff members. They say they fear for their safety.

The international community has heaped pressure on Odinga and Kibaki to meet face to face, yet the two remain as hostile as ever.

Odinga and his opposition Orange Democratic Movement rejected Kibaki's offer to form a government of national unity, saying that he stole the election and must therefore step down from the presidency and enter talks with an international mediator over the prospect of a new election in a few months time.

The head of the African Union, Ghanaian President John Kufuor, was due to arrive in Nairobi on Tuesday night to start mediation talks.

Ms Muriuki added, "Please pray for those who have lost their loved ones in the skirmishes. Pray for the thousands of ordinary people who have been displaced and whose property has been burned down or looted."

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