Obama Weighs in on Kenyan Election

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Posted: Aug 07, 2017 6:30 PM
Obama Weighs in on Kenyan Election

Former President Barack Obama issued a statement on Monday urging for peace during the upcoming Kenyan election. Kenya will have their general election on Tuesday, August 8 and will elect a new president and parliament. There are considerable fears of violence, given the country's past as well as two violent incidents leading up to election day. 

In his statement, Obama called on Kenya and its leaders to "reject violence and incitement" and for people to work together regardless of the election result. He said that Kenya needs to live up to its "remarkable potential" as a nation, and that this election is a "milestone" for the country. 

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. 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.

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Over the last three decades, since my first visit to Kenya in 1987, I have witnessed your remarkable promise and I’d like to return to see you fulfill your even more remarkable potential. This election is one more milestone for Kenya, and I urge President Kenyatta, Mr. Odinga, and all Kenyans to act with respect for the proverb: “We have not inherited this land from our forebears, we have borrowed it from our children.” 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.”

Kenya's election in 2007 sparked two months of conflict and saw an estimated 800-1,500 people, including members of parliament, killed, with hundreds of thousands of people being displaced. It was alleged that the election was fixed, sparking the violence. 

This was a nice statement from Obama, who has very close ties to Kenya and has visited the nation numerous times. Let's hope that his words are taken to heart and that violence can be avoided.