Kenya’s foreign envoys on Sunday called for free, fair and credible general elections as the East African nation’s gears for a tightly contested polls in August.
In a joint statement issued in Nairobi, the envoys from 25 foreign nations said political parties have a responsibility to hold their members accountable to pursuing peaceful, issue-based, and corruption-free campaigns.
The envoys from the United States, the European Union, Germany, France, Canada, Britain and Denmark among others, said free, fair, peaceful, and credible elections will help secure the extraordinary promise of the 2010 Constitution, strengthen democracy, and advance prosperity for all Kenyans.
“We urge the national and county governments, political parties, security services, and all Kenyans to embrace inclusive political discourse while rejecting violence and those individuals who call for it,” they said.
The Western nations cautioned that mishandling the electoral process is likely to reignite the sort of violence witnessed in 2007-2008 when a dispute between former presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki and ex-prime minister Raila Odinga almost drove the country into civil conflict.
The envoys said the upcoming elections will be an important milestone for Kenya, adding that development partners have committed 85 million U.S. dollars to support the election process, all of it in the form of non-partisan assistance and at the request of the Kenyan government.
“To be clear, this help is not programmed to influence the election for any side, political party, or candidate. Rather, our assistance supports the Kenyan people to exercise their right to vote and have their voice heard. Kenyans alone will decide who is elected,” they said.
“This means having safeguards that help us prevent political violence despite robust competition and sometimes heated debate. It means building strong institutions and a deep commitment to our Constitutions, whether written or unwritten,” they said.
The envoys said security services, have a vital role in protecting the rights of all Kenyans, remaining politically neutral and respecting human rights, including during political demonstrations.
“Fair competition will strengthen Kenya’s reputation as a beacon of democracy in Africa. However, if these elections do not reflect the democratic choices of Kenyans, they could bring the country’s progress to a halt or plunge it back into ethnic conflict,” the envoys said.
The envoys lauded the approval of the new commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and called on all Kenyans to support them to ensure they preside over a credible election.
They also urged the commission to be transparent in its operations as a way of fostering public trust.
“Both the IEBC Commissioners and Secretariat need support from across the political spectrum to move forward quickly with election preparations, including voter registration and education, an audit of the voters’ registry, and procurement of technology. Each step of the way, we encourage the IEBC to engage widely and communicate publicly what it is doing,” they said..
The electoral agency which currently is conducting mass voter registration exercise has assured Kenyans the ongoing voter registration exercise will be conducted in a prudent manner.
Kenya’s major political parties are mobilizing their supporters to participate in the final voter registration exercise ahead of August polls.
Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his rivals in the opposition hare currently been crossing the country as they lead nationwide campaigns to encourage their supporters to acquire a voter’s card. Enditem