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Former Zambian President Hopeful About Kenya Poll

  • Peter Clottey

Zambia's former president, Rupiah Banda, is seen in a March 8, 2011, file photo.

Zambia's former president, Rupiah Banda, is seen in a March 8, 2011, file photo.

Zambia’s former president says he is confident Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will organize a peaceful and credible election, despite reports of escalating tensions before Monday's vote.

Rupiah Banda is leading the U.S.-based Carter Center poll observers. He says senior IEBC officials reassured him during a meeting Saturday that measures have been implemented to prevent voter irregularities during the election.

In an interview with VOA, Banda said he is hopeful the election will be peaceful. “We are not here to judge the outcome, but to judge the process that will lead to the outcome, as observers,” said Banda. “We really wish them well and we want to ensure that the process is free and fair and that the people would have spoken and that their voice will determine the future,” he added.

Kenya is the first African country to organize elections this year, and Banda said the electoral commission, headed by Ahmed Issack Hassan, appears up to the task.

“I was impressed by the chair himself, Ahmed Issack Hassan; he looked calm and sturdy and focused. I think that they have a brilliant commission, committed to delivering a free and fair election,” said Banda.

Some Kenyans have been expressing concern about rising tension in some parts of the country, which they said could trigger violence.

But outgoing President Mwai Kibaki and all of the presidential candidates have called for a peaceful vote, after the chief of police also announced stepped up security to prevent violence.

Banda said, “We are getting a good feeling about what [presidential candidates] have said publicly. They said they will accept the results of the elections; of course they qualify it by saying if the elections are free and fair, and we believe that they will be free and fair. We have hope that the leaders are conscious of the importance of this kind of good results to the election.”

Banda noted some Kenyans he spoke with in the streets expressed worry about violence.

“Naturally, they have not met the chairman of the electoral commission or the other leaders so they are concerned that the election would erupt into violence as was the case before. But, I must say, a lot of messages have come from everyone, starting from the president and all the church leaders, all the political parties have come out and said that this time around they would accept the results of the elections. So, I am optimistic,” said Banda.