NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21 – President Mwai Kibaki on Monday urged local and international media to stop exaggerating the violence witnessed in various parts of the country during just-ended party nominations.
Kibaki, who spoke after meeting the officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at his Harambee House office, said the violence was isolated.
The Head of State maintained that he had confidence in the country’s security agencies noting that they moved with speed to restore order in the affected areas of Nyanza and Nairobi following the mini polls.
“The Head of State noted that cases of violence were isolated and restricted to a handful of counties.”
IEBC officials led by chairman Issack Hassan further assured the president that they were fully prepared to conduct a credible election in March.
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, who also attended the meeting, added that an elaborate security plan had already been set up ahead of the elections.
The president had sought to know how prepared the country was for the forthcoming elections and what lessons it had picked from the just concluded party nominations.
“In this regard President Kibaki instructed all security agencies to take steps to ensure that all stages leading to the general elections are peaceful and that decisive action be taken against lawbreakers whatever their status in society,” said the brief from State House.
Kibaki also appealed to political parties to avoid escalating tension that may have arisen from the nomination process saying they should strictly follow the law.
Cabinet Ministers Katoo ole Metito, Eugene Wamalwa, Njeru Githae, Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia and their Permanent Secretaries were also in attendance.
“The government will take all necessary steps to ensure that the general election will be free, fair and peaceful and that the will of the Kenyan people would be reflected in the exercise,” assured the president.
The IEBC also informed the president that an aggressive voter education process would begin within a week’s time.
The primaries, which were concluded last Thursday and Friday were marred by several delays that gave rise to fears of rigging and other electoral malpractices.
Voters in Kisumu and Siaya counties even took to the streets demonstrating against disputed Orange Democratic Movement nominations.
While voters in Siaya County disputed the gubernatorial nomination of Oburu Odinga against William Oduol, those in Kisumu took issue with the nomination of Ruth Odinga against Jack Ranguma.
The discontented voters blocked roads and lit bonfires during the riots. Ruth Odinga has since withdrawn from the contest.