NAIROBI - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Kenyans must work together to hold free and fair elections and be a role model for Africa and the world, and she urged their leaders avoid the post-election bloodshed that Kenya suffered five years ago.
A general election next March will be the first since a disputed 2007 poll set off a politically based ethnic slaughter in which more than 1,200 people were killed.
Clinton told reporters in Nairobi Saturday that "the United States has pledged to assist the government of Kenya in ensuring that the upcoming elections are free, fair and transparent.''
Clinton met President Mwai Kibaki, who is barred by law from seeking a third term, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who leads in opinion polls in the race to replace him.
The two were the main rivals in the disputed presidential poll, when then opposition leader Odinga accused Mr. Kibaki of stealing the vote.
Clinton will also meet with leaders of neighboring Somalia to urge them to complete a political transition to a new government on schedule. The transitional government is set to end August 20 when the U.N. mandate for it expires.
On Thursday, following Somalia's adoption of a new provisional constitution, Clinton urged Somali leaders to complete the remaining tasks “quickly and transparently.” Somali leaders must still select members of the next parliament and elect a new president.
In Juba Friday, Clinton called on South Sudan and its neighbor, Sudan, to resolve bitter disputes that pushed the two countries to the brink of war earlier this year.
Clinton also met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala Friday. She encouraged Uganda to continue its effort to hunt down Lord's Resistance Army fighters in central Africa and to fight Islamist militants in Somalia.
Following her stop in Kenya, Clinton is due to visit Malawi and South Africa.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.