Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Polls Will Be Peaceful, Free and Fair - PM

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has reassured Kenya's development partners that the forthcoming general election will be free, fair and peaceful.

Noting that the 2013 elections are historic, Odinga said the elections will determine whether Kenya moves forward in the coming decades or stays stagnated and underperforming as it has these past decades.

He said: "I believe the coming elections will determine whether we embrace radical transformation at a faster pace or we run the tortoise speed as we have done these past decades," and added; "I believe Kenya's future will be bright if the next election is conducted transparently and passes off peacefully."

The PM was speaking on Monday on the occasion of opening on the new Swedish embassy in Nairobi's Gigiri area, which was also attended by the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson.

On the recent protests in Mombasa and clashes in the Tana Delta and other parts of the country that appeared to signal election related violence in the coming months, Odinga dispelled such fears saying the country's leaders vividly remember the tragedy that followed the elections in December 2007 and none of them want to go there again.

"On my part, I assure you that I will do all I can to ensure that elections will be free, fair and peaceful. And I am confident that it will be so." he added.

Odinga lauded Sweden's development cooperation in Africa and in Kenya, noting Sweden has stuck with Africa throughout the years of economic depression and imperial Presidency. He said: "Sweden spoke out for democracy and the human rights, and stood by those who fought for those values."

He urged Sweden and other development partners to continue to speak out for Kenya's constitution and step up their assistance for its full implementation adding the constitution is the most important legacy of the Grand Coalition Government.

The PM observed that though it has not been easy to implement the constitution Kenya has changed for the better adding for example the court is no longer a rubber stamp of the executive or forces of corruption, it is substantively contributing to safeguarding the democratic values in the country.

Odinga at the same time encouraged development partners to join the government in fighting poverty in the Kenya noting despite solid economic growth in the country poverty remains unacceptably pervasive.

He said it was unfortunate that only a third of young Kenyans have a decent job, a huge number of children are malnourished while too many children, particularly girls cannot attend primary school because their families are too poor.

He pledged his total commitment to eradication poverty, noting several initiatives to that effect were under preparation under the guidance of his office.

The PM said: "Your continued assistance in fighting poverty, supporting democracy and harnessing sustainable environment will no doubt be essential. But equally important, greater efforts must be made to promoting trade and investment."

Odinga noted that Sweden has been very active to take advantage of the opportunities Kenya offers, saying the embassy is planning a round table on business and development with vision 2030 secretariat, a visit of Swedish trade delegation and workshop on sustainable urban development, all in the next month or two.

"I am sure that your efforts will bear fruits and trade and investment between Kenya and Sweden will expand rapidly in the years to come," he added.

On her part Carlsson expressed satisfaction with the Kenya's constitution saying it leveraged the fight against impunity and bad governance.

She said Sweden recognizes that Africa and Kenya in particular was on an economic take off adding her country was ready to forge closer bond with the country especially in realizing the vision 2030.

On regional matters, Carlson lauded the recent successful Presidential election in Somalia and expressed hope that the new government will bring peace and stability to the war ravaged country.

She underscored Kenya's role in bringing peace to Somalia and pledged her country's commitment to collaborate with Kenya in this endeavour.

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