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4040-US-urges-Kenyans-to-shun-violence-embrace-dialogue-ahead-of-poll-re-run.htm | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters take part in a demonstration during the bi-weekly protest by opposition supporters in Nairobi. Supporters of Kenya’s main opposition party, National Super Alliance (NASA) on Friday engaged in street protests to force changes at Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of repeat presidential polls slated for Oct. 26. XINHUA PHOTO - CHARLES ONYANGO

U.S. urges Kenya to shun violence, instead embrace dialogue

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The United States on Friday expressed concern over the political developments in Kenya and urged the parties to shun violence and avoid changes to the electoral law ahead of the Oct. 26 presidential re-run.

A statement from the U.S. State Department received in Nairobi said Washington is closely monitoring Kenya’s electoral process and what politicians are saying and doing.

"Kenyan leaders and citizens must reject violence and call on others to do the same," the U.S. said in the statement which came hours after the opposition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) supporter staged protests to press for the reforms at the electoral body including changes in staff who bundled the Aug. 8 general elections.

The U.S., which expressed its deep concern by the deterioration in the political environment in Kenya, called on security services to use the utmost restraint in handling demonstrations, and any response must be proportionate and appropriate.

It said the U.S. remains committed to supporting a free, fair, and credible election "that is consistent with Kenya’s Constitution, current laws, and institutions, and we do not back any party or candidate."

But Washington said in recent weeks actors on all sides have undermined the electoral commission and stoked tensions.

The U.S. said changing electoral laws without broad agreement just prior to a poll is not consistent with international best practice, increases political tension, and undermines public perceptions of the integrity of the electoral process.

The statement comes as political stalemate is stalking Kenya following the annulment of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in Aug. 8 polls by the Supreme Court.

The East African nation is currently facing uncertainty as political leaders from major parties namely NASA and Jubilee engage in grandstanding over fresh elections scheduled for Oct. 26.

Analysts have warned that without an election within the constitutionally mandated 60-day window, Kenya will enter unmarked treacherous constitutional political terrain.

Washington said a peaceful and transparent poll that provides all Kenyans a voice in choosing their next President will require that the electoral commission have the independence and support it needs to fulfill its Constitutional and legal obligations.

"While we support freedom of speech, baseless attacks and unreasonable demands on the electoral commission are divisive. We fully support the commission’s efforts to engage leaders and parties in dialogue, and urge all to participate openly, seriously, and in good faith," it said.

The statement comes after street protests against Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) carried out by opposition supporters turned chaotic on Friday in Nairobi and western parts of the country thereby hurting businesses.

What began as a peaceful march against electoral agency’s officials accused of bungling the Aug. 8 polls later turned into violent confrontation between protesters and anti-riot police.

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday urged Odinga to stop destroying the country’s economy for his selfish interest and urged him to stop putting his personal interest before the interests of 45 million Kenyans.

Kenyata, who spoke in reaction to the destruction in the lakeside city of Kisumu of private property, including a supermarket, and water supply system of the lakeside town, said Odinga should take responsibility for the damage being caused to the economy through his actions.

Speaking in Meru town in central Kenya, where he wrapped up his campaign tour of the populous county, Kenyatta said Odinga should be mindful of the interest of the Kenyan people and should engage in politics that does not jeopardise the nation’s wellbeing.

He said the opposition was bringing up endless demands before the Oct. 26 fresh presidential election because they know Kenyans will reject them as they did in the Aug. 8 poll that was nullified.




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