Clinton warns Kenyans to be conscious on oncoming election

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Staff writer

Nairobi-Kenya-visiting Kenya’s state house, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday warned leaders and citizens in the East African nation not to repeat the deadly violence that plunged the country into chaos after disputed presidential elections five years ago.

According to Clinton, Kenya had the potential to be prove its democratic maturity and be an international model for free, fair and transparent elections. But she made clear that further election unrest would damage Kenya’s economy and global standing.

Clinton was quoted by AP as saying, “Not only is this important for the people of Kenya, but the eyes of the world will be on this election,” Clinton told civic leaders and members of Kenya’s electoral commission after meetings with President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and parliament speaker.

“I have absolute confidence that Kenya has a chance to be a model for other nations, not just here in Africa but around the world,” she said. “On the other hand, the unrest that can result from a disputed election has a terrible cost both in lives lost and in economic impact.”

Some estimate that the widespread violence and unrest that followed the 2007 election cost Kenya more than a billion dollars in lost revenue. In addition, it marred what had been a solid reputation as a stable democracy in East Africa.

More than 1,000 people were killed in postelection violence after police ejected observers from the center where votes were being tallied and the electoral body declared Kibaki the winner.

President Kibaki said Kenya was preparing for the first General Election under the new Constitution slated for March 4, 2013, which he said would be peaceful.

“So much has happened since you last visited Kenya in 2009. What, however, stands out above all other developments is the promulgation of our new Constitution in August 2010,” President Kibaki said.

He reassured Kenyans and the international community that the process of implementing the constitution was on track as all the necessary laws prescribed for the first two years have been passed.

President Kibaki restated government’s commitment to ensure a transparent, free and fair election devoid of violence witnessed during the 2007/2008 post election violence

“The new Constitution offers a lot of hope for our country and we are therefore all committed to its full implementation.”

Ms Clinton appreciated the frontline role Kenya has continued to play to stabilise Somalia and the Horn of Africa, pledging her government support to such initiatives.


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