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Foreign envoys raise red flag over political tension in Kenya ahead of fresh poll

Storyline:National News
Opposition leader Raila Odinga speaks during a news conference at the offices of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition in Nairobi, Kenya August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

By Fauxile Kibet

As Kenya prepares for the upcoming presidential election scheduled for 26th of October, Ambassadors and High Commissioners in the country Monday have warned against rising political tension in the East African nation as both factions in the political divide remain at loggerheads over the fresh poll.

Led by the United States ambassador Robert F. Godec and European Union Chargé d’Affaires Bruno Pozzi, the envoys said the deteriorating political atmosphere had impacted on the preparations for the elections.

“We are deeply concerned by the deterioration in the political atmosphere and the impact this has had on preparations for the election.  We believe it is time for Kenya’s leaders and citizens to come together to work for a free, fair, credible, and peaceful poll,” a statement issued to newsrooms read.

They maintained a neutral stand saying that none of them supported any party or presidential candidate and that their main agenda was to help the East African country hold peaceful, free and fair elections.

In the statement, the ambassadors said they supported the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in its preparations and also in educating voters in the run up to the August 8 elections whose presidential results were nullified by the country’s highest court.

The statement comes days after a section of the ambassadors held talks with the county’s opposition leader Raila Odinga who maintains his victory was stolen from him during the August polls.

Mr Odinga who has called for nationwide protests to force IEBC chief Executive Officer Mr. Ezra Chiloba to resign among other demands has also pointed fingers at Kenya’s biggest telco, Safaricom over claims it manipulated the transmission of the results. Safaricom has since distanced itself from the accusations.

The protests which started Monday have been criticized by the government noting Mr. Odinga was keen on creating an environment that will ensure voting will not take place.

President Uhuru Kenyatta son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta however maintains that the country will hold its elections as scheduled and that Mr. Odinga must support the process and not create bottlenecks.

In their statement, the ambassadors stated that all candidates must follow the country’s constitution and that the electoral body should ensure that it holds an election in conformity with the historic ruling issued by the Kenyan Supreme Court on 1st September.

“It is critical that this election process be better than the last one and that it be free, fair, credible, and peaceful.  It must be conducted consistent with Kenya’s Constitution and laws.”


In what appeared to be directed to the country’s opposition chief, the ambassadors asked political leaders from both sides to make “reasonable demands” of the IEBC and their actions leading up to, and following the new election.

“It would be impossible to remake the IEBC in a way that satisfies all political demands, and everyone should refrain from undermining it.  All should give the IEBC space, time, and respect.  Do not paralyze the IEBC.”

They also criticized the ruling government for tabling the “Election Laws Amendment Bill” which they said puts at risk the IEBC’s ability to conduct a better election within the mandated 60-day timeline and unnecessarily increase political tensions.

The ambassadors also observed that Kenya being part of a democratic family was important and that is why the entire world had its eyes on the country to see how it approaches the elections and its outcomes.

“This election offers Kenya the opportunity to inspire and shape the future of Africa and the world.  We stand with all Kenyans who seek to deepen democracy, advance prosperity, and strengthen security.”