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Kenya must promote healing amid divisions after polls says EAC | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Opposition supporters are dispersed by tear gas in Kawangware slums in Nairobi. Anti-repeat presidential protests have led to clashes between the police and protesters in Kawangware area of Nairobi. XINHUA PHOTO - JOHN OKOYO

Kenya must promote healing amid divisions after polls says EAC

by Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The East African Community Election Observer Mission (EAC EOM) has called upon Kenyan political leaders and election managers to embark on a process of reconciliation and healing in the wake of divisions that were witnessed during the just concluded repeat presidential polls.

A statement from the regional bloc issued in Nairobi on Sunday noted that hostilities witnessed before, during and after the repeat polls are a wake-up call for Kenyan leaders to promote cohesion.

"All actors and stakeholders in Kenya's elections should endeavor to address the underlying issues which continue to cause mistrust to institutions of government and fellow Kenyan citizens," read the statement

The EAC deployed an election observer mission to Kenya to monitor preparations and actual voting during the October 26 repeat presidential polls.

Observers who visited 192 polling stations in 17 counties across the country said though the voting exercise adhered to the constitution and electoral laws, it was marred by low voter turnout, boycotts and violence in opposition strongholds.

They decried polarization that preceded the repeat polls and urged the government and non-state actors to promote an inclusive, fair and transparent electoral process.

"The government should ensure that a conducive environment for elections prevails in the entire country to enable the participation of all voters in the voting process," noted the EAC statement

Kenya should learn from the short-comings of the repeat presidential polls to prevent them from recurring in the future.

The EAC observer group said that new reforms in the electoral process coupled with dialogue among different political groupings is key to averting crises during future polls.

"The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in collaboration with other stakeholders should ensure necessary reforms are undertaken to address all the challenges identified in the post-election review," said the EAC observers.

They urged political parties to prevail upon supporters to refrain from actions that threaten national security, peace and cohesion in order to hasten post poll healing in Kenya.
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UPDATE:

U.S. calls for inclusive dialogue to resolve political divisions in Kenya

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The United States on Monday called for an all-inclusive dialogue to help resolve deep political crisis in Kenya following a disputed repeat presidential elections held last week.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said it is worrying to see violence and use of extreme force by security forces especially in opposition strongholds after repeat poll which was boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga.

"We appeal for calm in the coming days.

"We call on all Kenyans to come together at this critical moment to reject the politics of hatred and division," Godec said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

"We again urge there will be an immediate, sustained, open, and transparent national dialogue involving all Kenyans to resolve the deep divisions that the electoral process has exacerbated," said the envoy.

Godec said security services have a special responsibility to show maximum restraint in the use of force, and should use it only when there is no other choice to protect life and property.

"We are deeply concerned by reports of excessive use of force by the police; we urge that all such allegations be fully investigated and any officers who have acted outside the law be held to account.

"Protesters who are exercising their constitutional rights have an obligation to do so peacefully," he said.

The statement comes amid complains from Kenyans including human rights group that heavily armed police are using excessive force against protesters and bystanders in the Western counties of Kisumu, Homabay, Migori and Siaya in what appears to be a deliberate campaign to punish inhabitants for continuing to protest amid chaotic elections over the past week.

At least six people have lost their lives in electoral offenses across the country in the past week following clashes between the police and the youth in opposition areas who attempted to prevent polls opening by blockading polling stations or intimidating voters.

Godec called on leaders and politicians to publicly reject violence and work to keep the peace, and make every effort to ensure their supporters do so as well.

"In this regard, we welcome the work being done by some governors, religious leaders, civil society representatives, the Kenya Red Cross, and others to help keep the peace and assist those affected by the violence," he said.

Kenyans voted on Oct. 26 repeat presidential polls after the Supreme Court nullified the Aug. 8 presidential elections citing irregularities and illegalities.

The voting exercise was largely peaceful in most parts of the country save for sporadic riots in the opposition strongholds where it was boycotted.

           

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