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Raila hails Obama statement on polls

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By DR | February 7th 2013

By Digital Reporter

Nairobi, Kenya: Politicians continued to react to the statement issued by President Barack Obama that the US government will not endorse any candidate at the March 4 General election.

And today, Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 4 p.m. Kenya time, Obama’s envoy will re-echo his message and field questions through a telephone press conference with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson who will discuss the upcoming elections in Kenya. 

During the call, Carson who is a former ambassador to Nairobi, will address the importance of building on the progress of the new constitution; the prevention of violence that occurred in 2007-2008; and the need for free, fair, and transparent elections all of which will help ensure stability and economic growth.  

Assistant Secretary Carson will make an opening statement and then answer questions from the press.

Said Obama in a statement issued on Tuesday: “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.”

Obama whose father was Kenyan from Alego Kogelo, Siaya County, reminded citizens that the march 4 polls will be a make or break election where they must a befitting choice that marks the departure from a past dogged by impunity and corruption to a new dawn of a great and proud nation.

“This election can be another milestone toward a truly democratic Kenya defined by the rule of law and strong institutions. If you take that step, and reject a path of violence and division, then Kenya can move forward towards prosperity and opportunity that unleashes the extraordinary talents of your people – especially young people. If you continue to move forward, you can build a just Kenya that rejects corruption, and respects the rights and dignity of all Kenyans. “

Jubilee coalition presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto commended the Obama statement chiding rivals who thought the US may endorse their candidature.

Ruto said Obama’s statement should send a clear message to their competitors that they should prepare to face them at the ballot, and it had given Kenyans the green light to elect a leader of their choice.

Their CORD counterparts similarly greeted the Obama statement with joy.

Below is the full statement from Raila on Obama’s statement:

“I and my colleagues in the CORD Summit took the greatest satisfaction from President Barack Obama’s strong affirmation of continued US support for 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 also because of Kenya’s unique importance to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

 

Every word the President uttered, and every point he made, spoke to every Kenyans’ heart. All Kenyans want an end to violence and intimidation during this campaign period. 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.  

Mr. Obama also asked us to “reject a path of violence and division.” If we successfully pursue this path and hold free and fair elections, the President said, Kenyans would continue to have a strong friend and partner in the US.

The President’s words, which reflected the continuation of the US policy that has been in place since the failed election and violence of 2007-2008, have had a particularly vivid impact because he took the time to actually record them, enabling thousands to hear exactly what he said.  

The President praised us for our extraordinary achievements since 2008, highlighting the most important of them. Every one of those achievements was made possible by the strong international support, led inevitably by the United States, for the reforms Kenyans agreed to undertake in our Kofi Annan-mediated Peace Accord. These reforms are indispensable to a peaceful and prosperous Kenya. Kenyans know that their full implementation will only be possible under a CORD government. 

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 urge our political opponents to commit to the same.

However, we are noting some worrying steps that are being taken to unfairly influence the outcome of the election. The electoral process can only be free and fair if all institutions with related responsibilities work to ensure this outcome. We have seen recently that a number of radio transmitters of Royal Media were closed down arbitrarily. Officials of other powerful institutions are also trying to limit discussion and debate about crucial issues that lie at the root of widespread discontent among Kenyans in all regions.

Let me again thank President Obama for highlighting his support for this crucial election, which will determine whether Kenya goes forward according to the will of its people.

 

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