2017 Kenyan Elections- Weighing in on the political tension in his home country, Barack Obama has called on Kenya to choose peace above violence during the elections.
The former US president made his plea as he showed interest and concern in the seemingly turbulent 2017 Kenya elections. Obama requested the leaders to embrace the path of peace during this election and accept election results no matter the outcome.
“I urge Kenyan leaders to reject violence and incitement; respect the will of the people; urge security forces to act professionally and neutrally; and work together no matter the outcome,”
This plea will make it one of the most significant post-presidential political statements Obama is making. Going further on he said:
“I urge all Kenyans to work for an election – and aftermath – that is peaceful and credible, reinforcing confidence in your new Constitution and the future of your country. Any disputes around the election should be resolved peacefully, through Kenya’s institutions and the rule of law.”
The election between Kenya’s top political titans Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga is considered the last straw of the politicians’ long time rivalry.
While the incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta is fighting to secure a second term; the opposition leader Raila Odinga, will be contesting for presidency for the 3rd time.
The election processes has already set a tone of violence. Adding to it was the brutal murder of Chris Msando, Chief Kenyan Election Official.
Kenya’s presidential elections in 2007 saw the killing of over 1000 Kenyans and as much as 600, 000 displaced. During the 2007 election, Odinga contested against Mwai Kibaki whom like Uhuru was fighting for a second term in office.
In 2013, Odinga ran a second time and lost to Uhuru Kenyatta. Like now, there were claims of rigging.
As violent reactions loom and Kenyans head for the polls, Obama whose father is from the Luo tribe condemned the divisive role which tribalism plays in Kenyan politics.
Incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta is backed by majority of Kikuyus and Kalenjins, while Mr. Odinga, 72, is strongly supported by the Luos, Luhyas and Kambas.
“In Kenya’s election we have already seen too much incitement and appeals based on fear from all sides,”
“But I also know that the Kenyan people as a whole will be the losers if there is a descent into violence. You can make clear that you will reject those that want to deal in tribal and ethnic hatred.”
Obama also admonished the people to vote wisely as their future depends on it.
“The choices you make in the coming days can either set Kenya back or bring it together,”
“As a friend of the Kenyan people, I urge you to work for a future defined not by fear and division, but by unity and hope.”
All eyes are on Kenya as the elections gradually unfolds, observers foresee a repeat of the 2007 election aftermath if the leaders of today compromise on peace.
President Obama has indicated one of his post-presidential interests to be in the fostering of leadership skills in the growing generation. He is of the opinion that being acquainted with good leadership skills will help curb political irregularities in the future.