Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged Kenyans to remain peaceful and provide a credible conclusion to Kenya's presidential election as they wait for the ballots to be counted, in contrast to the violent outcome following the 2007 polls.
"I have been encouraged thus far by the largely peaceful and orderly process, despite some incidents of violence and some technical problems," the Secretary-General told journalists, noting the "large numbers" of voters in Monday's election.
Mr. Ban urged those who cast their vote, as well as candidates, political leaders and their supporters, to "maintain the same calm and patience, to allow the electoral commission to complete its tallying of the votes, and to refrain from any pronouncements that could undermine its authority or cause tension."
"A peaceful, credible conclusion to the election is within Kenya's reach and would be a significant step for Kenyan democracy and stability," Mr. Ban added.
Millions reportedly went to the polling stations on Monday in the first presidential elections since the 2007 elections when anger over President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election killed more than 1,100 people, injured 3,500 and forcibly displaced up to 600,000.
Ahead of this week's vote, national and international observers and human rights actors warned of the risk of election violence, including the deliberate targeting of civilians due to political or ethnic affiliations.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, called on authorities to ensure the protection of civilians, especially women and girls, recalling that thousands of cases of rape and other forms of sexual assault were documented five years prior.
The outgoing president, Mwai Kibaki, also appealed for a peaceful vote ahead of the elections, as did the two current presidential rivals - outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.