8 February 2013

Kenya: Yes, There Will Be Consequences Over Kenyan President - France

Kisumu — The French government will stick to the European Union (EU) position of 'essential contact only' if an inductee of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is elected Kenya's president.

Even though French ambassador Etienne de Poncins says Kenyans have a right to elect a president of their choice, he made it clear that the electorate should not to expose the country to undue consequences.

Poncins, who was in Kisumu to meet civil society groups, says France is a member of the Rome Statute and their policy is to limit contact to persons indicted by the ICC.

"It is Kenyans who will decide its leaders but those decisions have consequences... the position of France is clear that we only have essential contact with people who are indicted by the ICC," he told journalists.

He says his country is interested in the election process but not the results.

The ambassador says they want a free, fair and transparent election without violence as witnessed in the last general election.

"The process is important and we are not going to take sides on any coalition. We are not here to interfere but to facilitate and express support regarding the process," he said.

On Thursday, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson appeared to contradict the stand taken by President Barrack Obama on Kenya's March 4 polls, with a caution that the choice of president "would have global consequences."

Speaking from Washington via a phone link with reporters at the United States embassy in Nairobi, Carson warned that as much as the general election was a Kenyan affair, its outcome would have implications since a president "must work with the international community."

"Individuals have reputations; individuals have images, histories and reputations. When they are selected to lead their countries those reputations do not go away from them, they are not separated" Carson cautioned.

Jubilee coalition's presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto are facing charges of crimes against humanity following the post election violence of 2007/8.

The French envoy said that the EU has been supportive of electoral reforms facilitating the donation of Biometric Voter Registration kits from their side and support also from Canada.

He called upon the political leaders to commit to holding a free and fair election.

"I think it should be something important for political leaders to commit themselves in holding free, fair elections. It is their responsibility to make this pledge" he said.

He proposed that the presidential candidates should make a public pledge during the upcoming presidential debate to commit to a free election exercise.

He says that the commitment should include how to deal with a dispute and concede defeat following the election outcome.

"Those disputes should go through judiciary, legal perspective and not through violence," he said.

Poncins says that the international community has faith in the judiciary after it underwent rigorous reforms and they will be capable to handle any election dispute.

He said the presidential candidates should be ready to concede defeat as part of the democracy noting that is it not easy to accept defeat but very important for democracy as it creates a condition for a peaceful process.

"This is not a legal requirement but a moral requirement for good democracy," he said.

Ojwang Joe also contributed to this report.

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