Pope's Envoy Calls for Peaceful Campaigns

Nairobi, Kenya - Opposing groups should maintain peace in the campaigns for the November referendum, the Pope's representative to Kenya said yesterday.

Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin also told the groups to tolerate each other's views over the proposed new Constitution.

"Kenyans should not think Constitution making is the end of everything. All parties should listen to each other's point of view but this does not necessarily mean agreeing or accepting the other person's opinion," the Nuncio said.

"A referendum campaign is a people-driven exercise; it should be conducted in an atmosphere of peace and all leaders should have the interests of the people at heart."

The archbishop said he would keenly watch the position the Kenya Episcopal Conference would take "on this important matter".

But he clarified that he did not support the statement by a group of foreign envoys on Tuesday, warning the Government against using public funds or public servants in the referendum campaigns.

"Each envoy has his or her own brief," he said.The archbishop spoke at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa where he gave grants and scholarships worth Sh70 million to 1,300 students drawn from 25 African countries.

The envoy emphasised the importance of university education.

He dismissed claims that the Church was not in favour of progress of human thinking and was only interested in 'imposing dogmas'.

"To say that is to forget that most of what is proclaimed today, for example, on matters regarding human rights, comes from the Christian reflection made in the context of the belief in God, based on the evangelical values and on the recognition of the presence of the image of God in the human being and not just of our own image," he said.