News24

Clinton calls on Kenyans

2012-08-05 12:29

Nairobi - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Kenyans to work together to ensure free and fair elections next year and avoid a repeat of the deadly post-poll violence seen four years ago.

"We urge that the nation come together and prepare for elections that will be a real model for the entire world," Clinton said on Saturday after talks with President Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi on the latest leg of her Africa tour.

Kenya plunged into violence after the December 2007 election in which Prime Minister Raila Odinga - then opposition chief - accused the incumbent Kibaki of having rigged his re-election.

What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, who in turn launched reprisal attacks in the country's worst violence since independence in 1963.

Kenya, East Africa's economic powerhouse, is due in March to hold its first general election since the violence.

"The US has pledged to assist the government of Kenya to ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and transparent," Clinton added, speaking ahead of talks with Odinga, a key candidate in the race for the presidency.

"Not only is this important for the people of Kenya, but the eyes of the world will be on this election. And I have absolute confidence that Kenya has a chance to be a model for other nations, not just here in Africa but around the world."

Clinton warned that "the unrest that can result from a disputed election has a terrible cost, both in lives lost and in economic impact.

"The instability that followed the last election cost the Kenyan economy, by most estimates, more than one billion dollars. So it is essential for government and civil society to work together."

Kibaki will not contest the next election.