Kenya (ODM/MNN) — Kenya is at a crossroads.
On March 4th, voters will decide the president, senators, county governors, members of Parliament, civic wards, and women county representatives.
What makes this election unique, says the Open Doors coordinator for the region, is that "these are the first elections under the new constitution with its very many new structures." However, recent memories of 2007 and the deadly rioting cast a shadow of concern over the impending vote.
The tensions are heightened–especially after the setup of a tribunal was blocked by politicians in Kenya, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to prosecute six politicians. Charges against two were dropped, while two of the remaining four are running in the elections: one for president and the other as his running mate. Some reports of violence have already surfaced.
Al-Shabaab influences have been growing in the region, triggering political instability and fears that religious freedom hangs in the balance. Additionally, Open Doors reports that the pressure on the government allowing for greater official influence for Islam remains a high priority.
Islamic family courts based on Sharia Law have been implemented in all counties–even in those with a low Muslim presence. It is feared that at least 10 of the counties with higher Muslim representation may push for the implementation of Sharia Law and may even be harboring ambitions to break away from the rest of the country, which is Christian dominated.
Against that backdrop, the Church struggles to adapt. Open Doors will be closely watching the build-up and the outcome of the elections.
This year Kenya made its first appearance as an entire country on the Open Doors World Watch List. Recent incidents of violence against Christians and churches, along with heightened insecurity in various areas in 2012, resulted in the entire country leaping into the No. 40 position on the list.
Open Doors is calling Christians around the world to join in prayer for Kenya as it prepares for the elections. There continues to be a backlash against Christians who opposed some clauses in the Constitution.
Pray that the Lord would guide the full implementation process and that this harassment of Christians will stop. Pray that God would give the new president wisdom. Pray for the Open Doors team as it travels to difficult areas in the region to do research, conduct training, and give comfort and encouragement to believers.