6 February 2013

Kenya: Obama's Stand Positive, Says Prime Minister

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica
Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs

Nairobi — Prime Minister Raila Odinga has also welcomed the assurance by United States President Barack Obama that his government will remain neutral in Kenya's March 4 election.

In a statement through his advisor Salim Lone, Odinga said that Obama's message was testament to the fact that the US cares about Kenya and that it has continued to support democracy in Kenya.

"It is a pleasure to know that the president is taking such keen personal interest in the unfolding Kenyan election and is also so fully aware of the key issues at play. This statement is the clearest testament that Mr Obama does care deeply about our country's future, not only because of his personal connection but because of Kenya's unique importance to regional peace, stability and prosperity," said Odinga in the statement.

"We want the coming elections to be free, fair and peaceful so that those who win are seen to reflect the true will of the people. Kenyans want to come together as one nation and vote for leaders of their choice without coercion or blackmail," he added.

The PM who is running for election as president for the third time, has reiterated his readiness to concede to the will of the people in case he is not elected.

He said unlike in 2007, all disputes from the election will be handled by the justice system.

"We in CORD are committed to respecting the will of Kenyans as expressed in a free and fair election. We are also confident that any deviation from this goal will be fully arbitrated by our new Judiciary. We ask our political opponents to commit to the same," he stated.

Odinga however hinted at foul play, following a decision by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to shut down several radio transmitters owned by Royal Media Services.

He said that the move was one of the 'worrying steps' that are being taken to unfairly influence the outcome of the election.

On Tuesday, President Obama made it clear that he would support and respect whatever choice Kenyans made in the March 4 poll, but insisted that it should be peaceful.

Obama urged Kenyans to avoid mistakes which can lead to violent incidents like the one witnessed in the country after the disputed 2007 election.

"The choice of who will lead Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The United States does not endorse any candidate for office, but we do support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people," he pointed out.

Obama further challenged Kenyans to shun tribal and divisive politics saying it was the only way the country would achieve growth and prosperity.

"This is a moment for the people of Kenya to come together, instead of tearing apart. If you do, you can show the world that you are not just a member of a tribe or ethnic group, but citizens of a great and proud nation," he urged.

Jubilee Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto had on Tuesday also commended President Obama for his assurance on neutrality in the election.

"I welcome today's statement by President Obama that the choice of who will lead our nation is the decision of the Kenyan people and that America will continue to be a friend of Kenya, irrespective of who is elected President on March 4th," Kenyatta told a news conference a few hours after Obama's pronouncement.

Ruto said their alliance had not received any official communication from any government indicating that it will not work with them if they win the election. He said some of the statements made were individual views but not the position of foreign governments.

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