Clinton tells Kibaki and Raila to ensure free and fair elections
Posted Saturday, August 4 2012 at 23:30
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday met President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga separately and sought assurance that Kenya’s next elections will be free and fair.
During the meetings in Nairobi, Mrs Clinton is understood to have emphasised the need for the government to put measures in place for a democratic election and avoid a repeat of the deadly violence witnessed four years ago.
“We urge that the nation comes together and prepare for elections that will be a real model for the entire world,” Ms Clinton said after talks with President Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.
“The US has pledged to assist the Government of Kenya ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and transparent.”
A statement from the Presidential Press Service said President Kibaki said the country was ready for the first elections under the new Constitution.
The meetings were held amidst accusations from either side of the coalition government over failure to hold a joint meeting with America’s most senior diplomat.
The Sunday Nation was told that Mrs Clinton wanted to meet President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga jointly but the Office of the President refused.
A source at the US Embassy close to the prior arrangements said last evening that the President opted to meet Mrs Clinton alone.
“That was the original plan but somehow things changed hours to her arrival. I do not know why the President changed the arrangement but maybe because of other issues we do not know,” the source said.
Mr Odinga’s Spokesman Dennis Onyango could not be reached for comment but a source in the office confirmed they had received an invite to jointly meet the US top diplomat.
The change of plan was also apparent in the change of times in her itinerary. Journalists had on Friday been told she would visit State House at 9.30 am, an hour and a half after her arrival. But she was there at 11 am. That also altered her timings of meeting Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga.
Reached for comment, Presidential Press Service head Isaiah Kabira said: “The programme we had, and which we sent to newsrooms, was that she was to hold talks with the President. That was what we went with.”
Other sources said the PM had turned down an invitation for a meeting at State House. However, the Sunday Nation could not independently confirm this.
After meeting Mrs Clinton, President Kibaki reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensure a transparent, free and fair election devoid of the violence witnessed in 2007/2008.
“So much has happened since you last visited Kenya in 2009. What, however, stands out above all other developments is the promulgation of our new constitution in August 2010,” the President said.
He also sought to reassure Kenyans and the international community that the process of implementing the Constitution was on track as all the necessary laws prescribed for the first two years have been passed.
Mrs Clinton, who left for Malawi on Saturday, also held talks with officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Mr Mutunga, a parliamentary team led by National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende and representatives of civil society.
“We urge the commission (IEBC) to come together and prepare for elections that will be a real model for the entire world,” she said after a meeting with Chief Justice Mutunga for about 45 minutes.