The United States has pledged to give Kenya $25 million (2.5 billion Kenyan shillings) in preparation for the coming general elections in 2017.
Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the plan by his government to donate the money to the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to help prepare for the 2017 poll.
“Kenya has come a long way since the elections in 2007 (post-election violence of 2007-2008). It is up to leaders on all sides to ensure that [the] violence that took place in the aftermath of that election is never repeated,” Kerry said during a press briefing in Nairobi.
The Secretary of State, who traveled to Kenya on Monday to discuss regional security matters with leaders of the East African community, said the United States doesn’t have any preferred party or presidential candidate in the coming elections.
“But we strongly support a fair, accountable, transparent, orderly, credible, non-violent electoral process, and we will do everything we can to assist Kenyans as they work toward that goal,” he added.
Mr. Kerry later met with the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House before meeting opposition leaders at a separate venue, where he reiterated the need for Kenyans to hold a peaceful election.
Speaking at the 38th memorial service of his father and Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta, President Uhuru Kenyatta emphasized the message of peace ahead of the 2017 general elections.
“Kenya is a democratic country, a free nation and we shall compete healthily, but we shall never compete again in this country to the detriment of our people or cause bloodshed in our nation and our land,” Uhuru said.
The president also invited Kenya’s main opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who attended the memorial service, to make the same declaration.
For his part, Odinga said that despite the occasional differences of opinion that may exist between the government and opposition, never again should Kenyans shed blood because of an election.
“Political competition should not bring enmity between our people. As we get in to campaigning, never again should we shed blood because of political competition,” Odinga said.
In 2007, Kenya was immersed in serious political violence, which left more than 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The violence broke out after the then-Electoral Commission of Kenya announced Mwai Kibaki as the winner, beating his closest opponent Odinga who was leading in the provisional results.
The opposition leader said the election had been rigged and called for mass action, which lasted for more than a month.