NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – The United States (US) President Barack Obama will not endorse any presidential candidate, in the forthcoming elections.
In a statement sent to newsrooms, from the White House, Obama said he would support and respect whatever choice Kenyans made in the March 4 poll however insisting that it must be peaceful.
Obama urged Kenyans to avoid mistakes which can lead to violent incidents like the one witnessed in the country after the disputed 2007 election.
“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,” he said on Tuesday.
Obama further challenged Kenyans to shun tribal and divisive politics saying it was the only way the country would achieve growth and prosperity.
He lauded the great strides Kenya had made in rebuilding communities and reforming institutions following the turmoil witnessed five years ago.
“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,” he argued.
About 1,000 Kenyans were killed and another 650,000 displaced following the bungled 2007 elections. Women and children were also not spared during the turmoil that rocked the country and placed it on the global spot for all the wrong reasons.
Pressure from the international community to restore peace gave birth to the grand coalition government in which the main contenders, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, had to share power.
Several electoral disputes were filed in Court leading to by elections in Kamukunji, Makadara, Ikolomani, Starehe, Kirinyaga Central, South Mugirango, Bonchari, Matuga constituencies.
The International Criminal Court also opened investigations into the violence, once normalcy was restored.
And as a result four Kenyans, among them Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, outgoing Eldoret North MP William Ruto and radio personality Joshua arap Sang, face trials at The Hague based Court.
Kenya also had to undertake judicial, electoral and police reforms to clean up its systems and restore public confidence. In addition a new Constitution was promulgated to facilitate the envisaged reforms.
The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) were also established. While the TJRC was set up to investigate all historic injustices and offer reprieve where possible, the NCIC was created to bring Kenyans together and help them overcome their tribal differences.