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Kenyan Election Chief Confident About March Polls

  • VOA News

In this photo taken February 11, 2013, Kenyan presidential candidates take part in a televised debate in Nairobi, Kenya.
Kenya's elections CEO says his commission is ready to conduct credible elections next month, in the country's first polls since deadly violence that followed the 2007 vote.

In an interview with VOA, James Oswago, the chief of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, said he believed officials are prepared for the March 4 polls.

"I am confident the IEBC has the capacity, competence, has got the presence of mind, has got the focus and the leadership to conduct a very successful election," said Oswago.

However, he added that conducting a peaceful election is not the "exclusive province" of the IEBC.

"There are other people who also have to make their own contribution, ranging from the security element, the judiciary and all the others," said Oswago.

Oswago's comments come after Orange Democratic Movement party accused the IEBC of not making adequate preparations to hold a credible election.

He said the commission has contracted with a British firm to print the ballot papers and has started moving ballot boxes to various regions across Kenya.

The elections are the first under Kenya's new constitution, enacted in 2010. The constitution was put in place in response to ethnic violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential vote. The violence in early 2008 killed more than 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000 from their homes.

Inter-communal tensions remain high in some parts of the east African country. A recent series of tribal clashes in the Tana River region has left dozens of people dead.

Last week, Human Rights Watch said these attacks, and the government's failure to punish those responsible from post-election violence five years ago, poses a security threat for the March elections.

The International Criminal Court is set to try four Kenyans accused helping to organize the post-2008 violence, including presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto.