1 February 2013

Kenya: Growth Depends On Peaceful Polls - USAID

Visiting USAID assistant administrator for Africa, Earl Gast says Kenya is on the path of rapid economic development, but it all depends on peaceful elections.

Gast was in the country to meet officials from the government, private sector and civil society to discuss ways of supporting peaceful election process before and after the March 4 polls.

"We don't support any candidate but we support the process. Free fair transparent and non violent elections," said Gast.

Gast who has been on the job for only 8 months has already visited Kenya four times in efforts to lend support to institutions and the state to avert a repeat of the 2007/2008 post election violence. The USAID has advanced $30 million to various programmes towards peaceful elections

"Kenya is a very important economic leader in the region and Africa in our view and the UN will continue with programmes aimed at backing up its objectives towards growth," Gast said

He said their aid will specifically be directed towards agriculture, health, democracy and aligned with vision 2030. He disclosed that USAID support may be affected by the planned spending cuts by the federal governments, but said this will not affect the ongoing programmes under previous foreign spending allocations.

Gast cited the biggest constraints to economic growth in Kenya as the uncertainties in the electioneering period, physical infrastructure including roads and railways as well as inadequate energy for large to attract large investments.

On the question of whether the USAID would cut links with Kenya if crimes against humanity suspects Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are elected President and deputy respectively, Gast said they will encourage Kenyan authorities to cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

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