Ban Ki-moon Calls For Peaceful Elections In Kenya

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has urged Kenyans to be peaceful as they go to the general elections on March 4.

Ban hopes the coming elections will be peaceful and credible.

According to the spokesperson of the Secretary General, Ban expressed appreciation for Kenya’s effort in strengthening democracy in a telephone conversation with President Mwai Kibaki.

Ban also urged Kenyans to respect the independence of the judiciary as well as the authority of the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) charged with election preparations.

A statement from Ban’s office says the Secretary General is encouraged by the recent statements made by all the presidential candidates to reaffirm their commitment to a peaceful and tolerant campaign. The candidates also appealed to their supporters to do the same and to reject inflammatory rhetoric, violence or fraudulent actions.

At a national prayer event on Sunday, leading presidential candidates prayed for peace and committed themselves to ensuring that peace prevails before, during and after elections. Those who attended the prayer event included Jubilee candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

On Tuesday, Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), noted thatinstances of localized violence likely to result in the arbitrary displacement of persons in Kenya have steadily increased in the run-up to the elections, although intervention by Government has helped to improve the situation.

Beyani urged Kenyan authorities to strengthen the measures in prevention of displacements of people. He also called on donors to support preparedness efforts that will safeguard the dignity of IDPs in the event of violence in the country.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch, “High Stakes: Political Violence and the 2013 Elections in Kenya,”  showed that inter-communal clashes in parts of Kenya like Tana River, Mombasa and Kisumu are indicative of violence just days before the elections. The report indicated 477 people died in the violence which also displaced hundreds others. Most of this violence has been attributed to pre-election maneuvering by politicians.

This year’s elections are the first under a new constitution inaugurated in 2010. Government officials say all will run smoothly despite the various hurdles experienced so far.

On Wednesday, a coalition of 30 civil society organisations warned of a repeat of violence similar to that experienced after the December 2007 elections. At least 1300 people were killed and 650,000 others were displaced. The civic organisations now warn that there has been a marked increase in the purchase of machetes, an indication that some groups could be preparing for “defense or offense.”

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