UN, African Union call for peace ahead of Kenyan election

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A joint statement between the United Nations (UN) Secretary General and the African Union (AU) Commission Chair has urged political actors and stakeholders in Kenya to work together towards the preservation of calm and peace in the country.

This as international pressure and concern continues to build ahead of Thursday’s rerun of the Presidential election, particularly
around the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission capacity to conduct a free and credible poll.

Tensions continue to be high in the east Africa nation, with Kenya’s opposition under former Prime Minister Raila Odinga calling for a boycott of the Thursday poll, and a former electoral commissioner, who fled to the United States last week, saying the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is dysfunctional and unable to produce a credible result.

The UN and the AU are closely monitoring developments in Kenya as the Secretary General’s spokesperson, Farhan Haq explains.

“The Secretary General and the AU Commission Chairperson called on all stakeholders to cooperate with the Independent electoral and boundaries Commission as a constitutionally mandated body to conduct the election. They urge all political parties and their supporters to create conditions for a peaceful election, and refrain from any act of violence, and stressed the need for the Kenyan security services to exercise restraint, use minimal force in performing their duties and respect the freedom and political liberties of all Kenyans.”

“Well, just to repeat – what we want is for everyone to cooperate with the IEBC. Remember, as we said in the statement, that this is the constitutionally mandated body to conduct the election, and it’s in that context that we want its work to be supported.”

Former election’s Commissioner, Dr Roselyn Akombe, who declined to be interviewed by SABC News, has claimed in other publications that the IEBC was subject to political interference.

This as Ambassadors to 18 European Union (EU) countries and the United States (US) also issued a joint statement urging dialogue and calm. United States Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec explains.

“Attacks on the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) staff must stop. No one is obliged to stand for office or
to vote if they do not wish to, but no one should use violence or intimidation to disrupt the right of others to vote or to participate. Doing so is profoundly undemocratic, and leaders must tell their supporters to refrain from such actions. In the coming days the whole world will be watching Kenya in its every step in this electoral process. In particular we are following closely the actions of leaders and politicians. Those who incite violence or undermine democracy should be held to account for their actions.”

Earlier this month, in a 37 page report, Human Rights Watch said police in Kenya had killed at least 33 people, and injured hundreds more in response to protests following the now annulled August 8 election.

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– By Sherwin Bryce-Pease