Tuesday, 5 February 2013

President Barack Obama's Message to the People of Kenya

Habari yako. Over the years, I have been greatly moved by the warmth and spirit – the strength and resolve – of the Kenyan people. And I’ve been grateful for my connection to Kenya, and the way you’ve welcomed me and my family to your beautiful country – from my father’s village in Alego, to bustling Nairobi.

In my visits, I’ve seen your progress. Kenya has lifted people from poverty, built an emerging democracy and civil society, and sustained a spirit of hope in the face of great difficulty. After the turmoil of five years ago, you’ve worked to rebuild communities, reform institutions and pass a new constitution.

Now, Kenya must take the next step in March, with the first national elections under your new constitution.

We all know what makes for successful elections. Kenya must reject intimidation and violence, and allow a free and fair vote. Kenyans must resolve disputes in the courts, not in the streets. Above all, the people of Kenya must come together, before and after the election, to carry on the work of building your country.

The choice of who will lead Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The United States does not endorse any candidate for office, but we do support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people.

This election can be another milestone toward a truly democratic Kenya defined by the rule of law and strong institutions. If you take that step, and reject a path of violence and division, then Kenya can move forward towards prosperity and opportunity that unleashes the extraordinary talents of your people – especially young people. If you continue to move forward, you can build a just Kenya that rejects corruption, and respects the rights and dignity of all Kenyans.

This is a moment for the people of Kenya to come together, instead of tearing apart. If you do, you can show the world that you are not just members of a tribe or ethnic group, but citizens of a great and proud nation. I can’t imagine a better way to mark the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence. And I say to all of you who are willing to walk this path of progress—you will continue to have a strong friend and partner in the United States of America. Kwaheri

1 comment:

  1. Below is the full statement from Raila Odinga on Obama’s statement:

    “I and my colleagues in the CORD Summit took the greatest satisfaction from President Barack Obama’s strong affirmation of continued US support for democracy in Kenya. It is a pleasure to know that the President is taking such keen personal interest in the unfolding Kenyan election, and is also so fully aware of the key issues at play. This statement is the clearest testament that Mr. Obama does care deeply about our country’s future, not only because of his personal connection but also because of Kenya’s unique importance to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

    Every word the President uttered, and every point he made, spoke to every Kenyans’ heart. All Kenyans want an end to violence and intimidation during this campaign period. We want the coming elections to be free, fair and peaceful so that those who win are seen to reflect the true will of the people. Kenyans want to come together as one nation and vote for leaders of their choice without coercion or blackmail.

    Mr. Obama also asked us to “reject a path of violence and division.” If we successfully pursue this path and hold free and fair elections, the President said, Kenyans would continue to have a strong friend and partner in the US.

    The President’s words, which reflected the continuation of the US policy that has been in place since the failed election and violence of 2007-2008, have had a particularly vivid impact because he took the time to actually record them, enabling thousands to hear exactly what he said.

    The President praised us for our extraordinary achievements since 2008, highlighting the most important of them. Every one of those achievements was made possible by the strong international support, led inevitably by the United States, for the reforms Kenyans agreed to undertake in our Kofi Annan-mediated Peace Accord. These reforms are indispensable to a peaceful and prosperous Kenya. Kenyans know that their full implementation will only be possible under a CORD government.

    We in CORD are committed to respecting the will of Kenyans as expressed in a free and fair election. We are also confident that any deviation from this goal will be fully arbitrated by our new Judiciary. We urge our political opponents to commit to the same.

    However, we are noting some worrying steps that are being taken to unfairly influence the outcome of the election. The electoral process can only be free and fair if all institutions with related responsibilities work to ensure this outcome. We have seen recently that a number of radio transmitters of Royal Media were closed down arbitrarily. Officials of other powerful institutions are also trying to limit discussion and debate about crucial issues that lie at the root of widespread discontent among Kenyans in all regions.

    Let me again thank President Obama for highlighting his support for this crucial election, which will determine whether Kenya goes forward according to the will of its people.