Clinton in Kenya for talks on elections, Somalia

August 4, 2012 8:17 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who arrived in Kenya on Saturday on the latest leg of her Africa tour, will use her visit here to urge local leaders to focus on ensuring a free, fair and peaceful General Election next year.

Clinton, who visited neighbouring Uganda and South Sudan on Friday, headed first into a meeting with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, which will be followed by talks with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Clinton is expected to discuss Kenya’s internal challenges, as East Africa’s economic powerhouse gears up for a March general election, the first since deadly post-poll violence four years ago.

She will separately meet Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and the Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende.

She will also hold talks with top Independent Electoral Commission officials led by Chairman Isaack Hassan at the InterContinental hotel from 1pm.

‘The Secretary will meet President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga, and other government officials to emphasise her support for transparent, credible, non-violent national elections in 2013,’ US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

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

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

Kibaki will not contest the next election.

Two presidential hopefuls, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former minister William Ruto, face trial in April in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over the post-election killings, charges they deny.

They face counts including orchestrating murder, rape and persecution in the aftermath of the poll.

Clinton is later due to meet the outgoing leaders of war-torn Somalia’s transitional government, due to end later this month an eight-year interim period marred by infighting, minimal political progress and rampant corruption.

Ravaged by repeated droughts and over two decades of conflict, Somalia is torn between rival clans, Al-Qaeda linked insurgents and the Western-backed government, propped up by a 17,000-strong African Union force.

Kenya, which invaded Somalia last year before joining the AU force, is a key US ally and closely linked to Washington’s efforts to quash Islamist movements in the volatile Horn of Africa region.

One person was killed in a grenade attack in a Nairobi suburb late Friday, the latest in a string of blasts in Kenya since its troops invaded southern Somalia to crush extremist insurgent bases there last year.


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