US urges Kenyans to avoid violence during repeat poll

Narok North Constituency Returning Officer Mark Lempaka with Sub-County Commissioner Ronald Mwiwawi inspect ballot materials at Maasai Girls Secondary School before they were dispatched ahead of the Thursday poll. The US has urged Kenyans to remain clam as they undertake the poll. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The United States Wednesday expressed deep concern about the political crisis in Kenya and urged parties to resolve their differences over a disputed August 8 presidential election without resorting to violence.

Kenyans are due to vote Thursday in a repeat of August’s presidential vote, which was annulled after the Supreme Court found “irregularities” and mismanagement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

But opposition leader Raila Odinga has urged his own supporters to stay at home after protest violence left at least 40 dead, apparently clearing the way for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.

“The United States urges all Kenyans to remain calm, reject violence, and uphold the principles of their Constitution in the election scheduled for tomorrow,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“We are deeply concerned about the continuing efforts of both parties to interfere with and undermine the independent operation of the electoral commission, the judiciary, and other essential institutions,” she warned.

“It is essential that there be immediate, open, and transparent dialogue between all parties and the IEBC to resolve the issues. Now is not the time for strife to divide Kenya, it is a time for all Kenyans to come together.”

Nauert also condemned an attack on the bodyguard of Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.

The guard was shot and seriously wounded Tuesday evening, and Mwilu failed to attend a last-minute legal challenge that could have halted the vote.



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