US concerned over Kenya political state

Friday October 06 2017

US President Donald Trump. The US State Department has said it is concerned over the political environment in Kenya. PHOTO | AFP


The United States has expressed concern over Kenya's political environment ahead of the repeat presidential poll scheduled for October 26.

Washington, in a statement Friday, also criticised the spirited campaign by politicians seeking to undermine the electoral commission, IEBC.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks actors on all sides have undermined the electoral commission and stoked tensions. We are closely monitoring Kenya’s electoral process and what politicians are saying and doing,” read part of the statement by US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

The US said while it supports freedom of speech, "baseless attacks and unreasonable demands on the electoral commission are divisive."

"We fully support the commission's efforts to engage leaders and parties in dialogue, and urge all to participate openly, seriously and in good faith."

With only three weeks to the poll re-run, both ruling Jubilee and opposition Nasa politicians have been trading insults and accusations, heightening fears of violence.


Nasa has called for protests to demand changes at the IEBC including firing of its chief executive Ezra Chiloba and other officials accused of bungling the August 8 election.

The opposition has also threatened not to participate in the re-run if parliament passes proposed amendment to the elections law.

The contentious Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, sponsored by the Jubilee Party, seeks to reduce powers of the electoral commission chairman and entrench the manual system of transmitting results. The amendment could also prevent the Supreme Court from annulling the results on procedural grounds again.

Last month, Kenya’s Supreme Court annulled the August presidential election, citing irregularities, but did not criticise any specific individual at the election board.

Parliamentarians return from recess next week and may pass the bill then, an action likely to spark further protests from the opposition.


On Friday, police fired teargas to disperse opposition protesters in the western towns of Busia, Homa Bay and Kisumu.

Protests in the capital Nairobi and port city of Mombasa were largely peaceful.

In Kakamega, five people were arrested after a group of youth attempted to barricade a road and light bonfires.

Nasa has called for demos twice a week — on Mondays and Fridays.


On Monday, diplomats led by US ambassador Robert Godec cautioned the country against attempts to make changes to electoral laws just days to the repeat poll.

The US maintained this stand Friday stating that: “Changing electoral laws without broad agreement just prior to a poll is not consistent with international best practice (and) increases political tension.”

-Additional reporting from agencies