2 October 2017

Kenya: Germany Ready to Give Support to Kenyans in Presidential Poll

opinion

On Tuesday, October 3, Germans celebrate their national day, the Day of German Unity, which commemorates a historic turning point for the country.

A peaceful revolution in Communist-ruled East Germany led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989.

Free elections the following year led to the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the official reunification of the Germanys on October 3, 1990.

GOVERNMENT

That was by no means easy. The political, economic and cultural systems were entirely different and challenges enormous.

The East had been isolated for quite long and there were huge differences in economic development and living standards between East and West Germany.

The results of the federal election last Sunday show there are still divisions today.

There are six political parties in Germany; so, forming a stable government is challenging.

ELECTION

Coalitions have been the norm in post-war Germany but, the more parties the greater the challenge.

But there is a tradition of political responsibility and politicians are ready to put national interests first.

Give and take, compromise and adherence to commitments are the essence of coalition building.

Kenya, too, is in an election year with the stakes seemingly very high.

I hope differences between contestants and other interested parties will be resolved through peaceful debate and give-and-take spirit.

PROTESTS

It is of fundamental importance that political leaders and their followers refrain from violence and hate speech.

Every citizen has the right to voice their opinion.

Peaceful public protest is part of that right. It the State's duty to protect it.

The nullification of the August 8 presidential election and the order for its repeat made world headlines in a positive manner.

The Supreme Court's decision was praised as a demonstration of the resilience of Kenya's democratic institutions and commitment to the rule of law.

Kenyans showed patience and confidence as the legal case ran its course.

IEBC

Everybody who is involved in the fresh poll has a moral duty to ensure it is free, fair, credible and peaceful and addresses the shortcomings pointed out by the Supreme Court.

We have trust in the ability of Kenya and its institutions to do so.

Germany and other international partners will continue to support the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in its work.

The IEBC is the only body that is constitutionally mandated to run the presidential election and all political stakeholders should help it and the Supreme Court to fulfill their roles and respect their independence as provided for by the Constitution.

DEMOCRACY

The media has an important responsibility too: To separate facts from fake news and report accurately and fairly.

Ultimately, a successful and peaceful poll will require goodwill and flexibility on the part of leaders and citizens.

Politics in a democracy should never be a matter of life and death.

Germany's support for Kenya is rooted in a long-time friendship going back to independence in 1963.

YOUTH

We have promised to assist Kenya in its development efforts this and next year to the tune of 260 million euros, part of it in improving technical and vocational training and establishing a joint East African-German university for applied sciences.

Such initiatives are designed to improve job opportunities for young Kenyans.

Notably, the German and Kenyan private sectors have volunteered in it.

INVESTMENT

We are stimulating further German investment in Kenya -- with some success but much more can be done -- and there is goodwill on both sides as this year's German-African Business Summit demonstrated.

The uncertainties surrounding the Kenyan elections have hampered economic activity.

It is therefore of utmost importance that the fresh poll takes place as scheduled, adhering to the highest standards.

That will not only enhance Kenya's political standing but also ensure a rapid return to a well-established path to growth and prosperity.

The author is the German Ambassador to Kenya. 

Kenya

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