Kenyans won't have to choose between worship services and civic duty during this year's presidential elections, according to remarks made by Samwell Kivuitu, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, during a press conference earlier this month.
To accommodate the country's Muslims, Kivuitu said, the December Election Day will not fall on a Friday -- the Muslim day of worship -- as it did in 2002. Kivuitu also indicated government officials would consider Seventh-day Adventists in choosing an election date.
The almost 600,000-strong Adventist community in Kenya requested that elections not be held on any religious group's designated day of worship after run-off elections in the country were held on Saturday in 2005, says Dan M'masi, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the church in Kenya. Adventists in the country continue to actively lobby for religious liberty, and many hold government positions, he says.
"We want our members to participate actively in elections," says M'masi, explaining that Kenya is in dire need of honest citizens who "vote by conscience, not bribery." He says the Adventist Church is sponsoring civic education programs to encourage church members to turn out in December.
"We are serious about voting," says M'masi, "and now we will be able to without compromising the Sabbath."
Religious freedom is relatively strong in Kenya, says John Graz, director for the Adventist Church's Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department. However, he adds, equally protecting both the country's Christian majority and its Muslim minority has posed challenges to the Kenyan government. [Editor: Philip Gai and ANN Staff for ANN/APD]