US envoy warns on Kenyan poll chaos
Posted Saturday, February 9 2013 at 02:00
The diplomat says violence will disrupt trade around the region, adding that US will do everything to prevent what
happened in 2007.
As Kenya prepares to go to the ballot early next month, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson
has warned against election violence.
Addressing journalists around Africa through a teleconference, the former ambassador to Kenya and Uganda said this is not
time for violence but reconciliation and implementation of the new constitution.
Mr Carson warned that violence in Kenya will affect the flow of goods and services to Uganda, Rwanda and all neighbouring
countries in the region as it was the case in 2007/8. “Kenya is the major trade hub in the region in especially industrial
production. What goes on in Kenya affects the region. What happens on the road through Kisumu affects Uganda, Rwanda and
eastern Congo and Mombasa is also very important to Juba and Kinshasa too,” he said.
After the 2007 general elections, chaos erupted in Kenya which saw more than 100,000 people displaced. The same led to
disruption and blockage of vital trade routes. “Kenya is vital to every Kenyan and equally vital to the region, so
politicians should not allow violence to interfere in the election process… that’s why we are focused to do what we can
with all the Kenyan friends to take steps that these elections don’t turn out the way those of 2007 did.”
Mr Carson’s call comes days after US president Barack Obama called for a peaceful poll in Kenya. In his message, president
Obama said Kenya must reject intimidation and violence and allow free and fair vote. He added that Kenyans must resolve
disputes in court, not on the streets.
Asked about what his office thinks of the candidature and possibility of electing presidential candidates interdicted by
the International Criminal Court -Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, Mr Carson said Kenyans should make choices based on a
contender’s history. “Choices have consequences. Individuals have histories, images, reputations and when they are selected
to lead nations, those images, histories and reputations go on with them. But I will not speculate on our approach to
whoever will be elected.”