By Barack Obama
Over the years, I have been greatly moved by the warmth and spirit – the strength and resolve – of the Kenyan people. And I’ve been grateful for my connection to Kenya, and the way you’ve welcomed me and my family to your beautiful country – from my father’s village in Alego, to bustling Nairobi.
In my visits, I’ve seen your progress. Kenya has lifted people from poverty, built an emerging democracy and civil society, and sustained a spirit of hope in the face of great difficulty.
After the turmoil of five years ago, you’ve worked to rebuild communities, reform institutions and pass a new constitution.
Now, Kenya must take the next step in March, with the first national elections under your new constitution.
We all know what makes for successful elections. Kenya must reject intimidation and violence, and allow a free and fair vote. Kenyans must resolve disputes in the courts, not in the streets. Above all, the people of Kenya must come together, before and after the election, to carry on the work of building your country.
The choice of who will lead Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The United States does not endorse any candidate for office, but we do support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people.
This election can be another milestone toward a truly democratic Kenya defined by the rule of law and strong institutions.
If you take that step, and reject a path of violence and division, then Kenya can move forward towards prosperity and opportunity that unleashes the extraordinary talents of your people – especially young people.
If you continue to move forward, you can build a just Kenya that rejects corruption, and respects the rights and dignity of all Kenyans.
This is a moment for the people of Kenya to come together, instead of tearing apart. If you do, you can show the world that you are not just a member of a tribe or ethnic group, but citizens of a great and proud nation.
I can’t imagine a better way to mark the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence. And I say to all of you who are willing to walk this path of progress—you will continue to have a strong friend and partner in the United States of America.