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Obama, international observers call for peaceful, credible polls in Kenya

Obama, international observers call for peaceful, credible polls in Kenya


Immediate past United States president, Barack Obama, has spoken on the Kenyan general elections taking place today.

The 56-year-old, whose father is a Kenyan called on all involved to play their part to ensure that the August 8 process was peaceful, credible, free and fair.

He singled out the main presidential contenders – incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, calling on them to heed to the proverb, ‘We have not inherited this land from our forebears, we have borrowed it from our children.’

He added in a statement released on Monday night that it was in the hands of Kenyans to decide their future but also that they should reject violence and incitement in doing so. ‘The ultimate responsibility is in the hands of the people of Kenya, who know more than any the needless pain and agony thousands suffered as a result of the crisis in 2007.

He said Kenya had come a long way from the peaceful transition of 2002 through to the violence of five years later. ‘I hope you will choose to build on this inclusive spirit to further advance the gains that have been made, rather than putting them at ris,’ he stressed.

The elections are four-pronged as voters will choose a president – in what is seen as a two-horse race between Kenyatta and Odinga with six other contenders. Voting will also take place for governors, senators and members of county assemblies.

Meet the eight candidates for Kenya’s 2017 presidential elections

Aside Obama, last minute peace calls have been pouring in from observer groups and other interested parties. A group of 9 entities issued a joint communique with hours to the polls.

The full statement is reproduced below:

We the Heads of the following international observer missions present in Kenya: African Union (AU), Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Commonwealth, East Africa Community (EAC), European Union (EU), International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and The Carter Center (TCC).

Recognise that the 2017 general elections are a critical opportunity for Kenyans to show their commitment to the democratic development of the country. Based on our consultations with Kenyan stakeholders over the past weeks, we note efforts made towards the conduct of peaceful, transparent and credible elections so that Kenyans can express their will freely.

We call on the political leaders and their supporters to ensure peaceful elections and respect for the rule of law as they go to the polls tomorrow and through the results process. We further call on them to uphold their commitments under the Electoral Code of Conduct which requires acceptance of the electoral outcome and seeking redress through the established legal channels.

We look to the government of Kenya to uphold its constitutional obligations to provide a secure environment in which Kenyans can vote freely, and to the judiciary to adjudicate appeals in a fair and timely manner.

Across our missions, we have over 400 observers deployed across the country who will follow all aspects of election day and some will remain to observe the tallying process and post-election period.

We wish the people of Kenya well as they proceed to the polls.

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