On August 8th of this year, Kenya will hold a general election. Kenyans will elect a president and his deputy, members of parliament, and county governors and assembly representatives.
Kenya’s previous elections, particularly the 2007 presidential election, have experienced violence and technical problems. In this context, stakeholders from across Kenya, including international partners, fear that this trend could continue and working to make the August 8 elections as free, fair, credible, and peaceful as possible.
In preparation for the August polls, Kenya’s first nation-wide primary elections, run by the political parties themselves, took place between April 13th and 30th. There was strong voter turnout and hundreds of candidates for county and parliamentary positions were selected. However, there were also delays in delivering party voting materials to the right polling stations, allegations of pre-marked ballot papers, and names of some voters missing from the party registers. Kenyan’s National Police Service announced that there were also two deaths related to violence around the primaries.
In a statement released on May 3rd, the heads of mission of 21 Embassies and Consulates, including U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, called on all Kenyans to embrace peace and reject violence. They also urged law enforcement and administration to remain politically-neutral, and to protect all voters, activists, and candidates equally and fully.
“As friends of Kenya, we congratulate the many Kenyans who peacefully participated in the recent political party primaries by voting and supporting the integrity of the process. We also welcome the large number of women and young candidates and voters,” said the statement.
“Together, millions of Kenyans stepped forward to exercise their constitutional rights and give voice to democracy. At the same time, Kenyans from all sides also rightfully expressed frustration with the serious organizational challenges and allegations of improprieties that affected many of the polls. Even more troubling were the unacceptable acts of violence and intimidation during the process.”
“As Kenya now moves toward August 8, the primaries highlight the importance of free, fair, credible, and peaceful general elections. . . We encourage citizens to vote for the leaders of their choice on August 8. We have no favored party or candidate. This is a decision for Kenyans alone to make”