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African Union Expects Peaceful Kenya Vote Monday

The returning officer for Mvita Constituency, Mombasa, Gabriel Mwalenga, right, explains to registered voters how the ballot boxes will be used in the forthcoming general elections during an election mock voting exercise.
The deputy chairman of the African Union says the organization expects Kenya’s election scheduled for Monday to be credible and peaceful.

“The first expectation is that the election will be peaceful and that Kenyans will have an opportunity to freely elect leaders of their choice, and that the country can consolidate the gains that have been achieved over the last few years following the last election that ended up with failures and post-election violence,” said Deputy Chairman Erastus Mwencha.

Mwencha said Kenya’s chief of police has reassured prospective voters of increased security to prevent possible violence during and after the voting. The African Union sent election observers across the East African nation to monitor preparations for the vote.

Mwencha says the AU’s election observers indicated in a preliminary report that the presidential campaigns so far have been peaceful despite concerns of escalating tension leading up to the elections.

“Generally, there is a concurrence that the country is now ready for election and campaigns have been quite intensive, but very peaceful and the state organs and the electoral board all indicate that they are ready,” said Mwencha.

Some Kenyans have expressed worry of possible violence following reports of heightened tensions in some parts of the country. Some Kenyans were reported to have abandoned their homes after threatening leaflets were distributed.

But, the chief of Kenya’s police force said Wednesday that his organization had strengthened security by deploying 99,000 security officers across the country.

“We have also seen the citizens themselves engaged in peaceful processes or prayers and also reconciling various communities - all aimed at getting the people to conduct themselves in a manner that they can get on with life after the elections, and that the election is not the end of life and that it is an event and a process that should come and go, but leave the country intact.”

He says he has been encouraged by the call by Kenyan leaders including religious and presidential candidates for a peaceful vote.

Mwencha also called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to make sure the voting results are credible.

“Hopefully when the results are announced, the victor and the losers can join hands to move the country forward,” Mwencha said. “No one should be left out that wants to vote and that at the end of the day the country would be much stronger. It would be a victory not just for Kenya but for Africa and even for the rest of the world.”

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