Six weeks before Kenya votes, international partners call for peaceful elections

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  • The US Secretary of State spoke to President Kenyatta about the importance of a peaceful election.
  • The AU sent an election expert mission to check issues like early warning signs of violence.
  • The International Crisis Group called on two main presidential candidates to respect electoral outcomes.

With under six weeks before Kenya goes to the polls on 9 August, the United States and other international partners are pulling out all stops to see the east African country hold peaceful and credible elections.

US Secretary of State Antony John Blinken spoke to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta via telephone on Thursday to discuss the importance of free and fair polls in Kenya and the region.

"The Secretary [Blinken] underscored the importance of free and fair Kenyan elections that are peaceful and reflect the will of the Kenyan people," said United States Department of State spokesperson Ned Price.

According to the US State Department, "the United States has a strategic interest in Kenya’s security and stability, and that commitment is reflected in our partnership on regional and global security issues".

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The US is also involved in the professionalisation of Kenya's military, counter-terrorism, maritime security, and peacekeeping.

Charles Ray, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Zimbabwe, said the outcome of the high-stakes polls in Kenya would set a good or bad example in east and central Africa.

"While the outcome of this year’s elections will be extremely important to Kenyans, regardless of the outcome, the effects will be felt far beyond the country’s borders. Tens of millions of Africans will be watching to see how the elections are conducted. Will it be a truly free, fair, and nonviolent process or more of the same? At the moment, all one can do is wait and see," he said.

Last week, Kenya invited the African Union to deploy an international election expert mission to the country, comprising of eight core teams experts. 

Diplomatic sources told News24 that the team was made up of legal and political experts who would look into early warning signs of conflict.

In a statement, the AU said: "The deployment of an election expert mission is part of the African Union’s comprehensive and long-term engagement in the 2022 general elections in Kenya.

"The core team experts will follow up on the electoral preparations, assess the political dynamics and genuine competitiveness and fairness of the electoral campaign, and maintain regular contact with national and international stakeholders before, during, and after the elections."

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Prior to the deployment of the technical AU team, the AU, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) deployed a joint high-level pre-election assessment mission from 14 to 21 May this year.

Its mandate was to promote free, fair, peaceful, and credible elections in the country.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) has pleaded with the main presidential candidates, current Vice President William Ruto and political journeyman Raila Odinga to lower the temperature by committing to either accept the outcome of a fair vote or challenge it exclusively in the courts. This is because Kenyan elections are always hotly contested.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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