Monday, March 11, 2013

West yet to speak on election winners

PHOTO | FILE US Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz when he was sworn in. He praised Kenya’s peaceful elections but fell short of congratulating the President-elect.

PHOTO | FILE US Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz when he was sworn in. He praised Kenya’s peaceful elections but fell short of congratulating the President-elect.  AFP

By NATION TEAM newsdesk@ke.nationmedia.com

Western nations were on Sunday silent on how they will work with the new government to be headed by President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta even as China congratulated the new leader.

Even though Britain, USA, Canada and the European Union, in separate messages, praised Kenyans for holding peaceful elections, they avoided naming Mr Kenyatta and only offered blanket congratulations to all those elected.

EU countries had previously warned that their envoys would not engage in “non-essential contact” should Mr Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto be elected President and Deputy President respectively. Both are facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Consequences

The countries consequently sent coded messages that Kenya’s choices at the elections would have consequences, which was interpreted by many as a warning against voting for Mr Kenyatta.

This triggered an angry reaction from the Jubilee Coalition which dismissed the messages as unwanted foreign interference in domestic matters as well as a plot by foreign powers to impose a preferred candidate.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said his country will remain closely allied with Kenya, but he did not reveal whether its foreign policy towards Kenya had changed now that Mr Kenyatta had officially been declared the winner of the presidential election.

“We stand with you at this historic moment and will continue to be a strong friend and ally of the Kenyan people,” said Mr Kerry.

Britain said that with the elections, Kenyans had expressed their sovereign will.

The UK minister for Africa, Mr Mark Simmonds said: “This is a historic moment for Kenya, when the Kenyan people have come together at the ballot box to achieve the promise of the new Constitution and choose their future leaders.

“I am confident that any disputes will be dealt with by the courts swiftly and fairly. We value our historic partnership with Kenya, and will continue to work in support of stability, security, development and prosperity.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr David Angell, said Kenyans exercised their democratic right in electing their leaders.

“Millions of Kenyans stood calmly and patiently in line for several hours in order to exercise their right to vote for presidential, parliamentary and county candidates,” he said.

The European Union, through its Foreign Affairs boss Catherine Ashton, while congratulating Kenyans for conducting a peaceful process, said the rule of law must be maintained at all times.

“It is particularly important that the rule of law should prevail,” the statement said. “The EU is confident that any disputes will be dealt with by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the established judicial mechanisms swiftly and fairly.”

However, China congratulated President-elect Kenyatta for winning the elections and Kenyans for voting peacefully. The Chinese embassy in Kenya said it was looking forward to working with the new President when he formally takes office.

“The elections were conducted peacefully and smoothly. We congratulate Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the President-elect of Kenya. We hope to push forward our friendly relations with the coming government,” said embassy spokesman Shifan Wu.

Uganda, South Sudan and Somalia, Rwanda and South Africa also said they would work with the newly-elected leaders.

Former UN boss Kofi Annan, on behalf of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, applauded the calm exhibited by Kenyans as they waited patiently for the results of the election and urged them to always remain peaceful.

Mr Annan said he was encouraged by the move by Cord’s presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, to contest the outcome of the election through the courts.

Reported by Dave Opiyo, Kevin J. Kelly and Jeremiah Kiplang’at

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