Pretoria - The African Union panel which mediated Kenya's post-election violence that created the coalition government has called for peaceful, free and fair general elections in Kenya.
In a statement issued in Nairobi, chairman of the AU Panel of Eminent African Personalities, Kofi Annan called on Kenyans who are due to elect their new leaders under the new constitutional dispensation on March 4 to shun electoral violence and embrace national unity to build a more cohesive country.
“The elections must be peaceful, free and fair. They must be conducted in accordance with the rule of law. They must be carried out with integrity, and must reflect the will of the people. Only then will national unity, stability and cohesion be safeguarded,” Annan said in the statement.
The former UN chief said after one of the darkest episodes in the country's recent history, following the 2007 elections, the East African nation was once again on a positive path.
He said Kenyans were working to heal deep wounds, to forge national cohesion and unity, and to build an institutional framework to safeguard their nation's future.
“I welcome the commitment of all presidential candidates to campaign peacefully, and ensure free and fair elections. Political, religious and community leaders also must condemn any action or language aimed at dividing or inciting the people," Annan said.
The elections are planned for the president, members of the newly created Senate, Parliament, governors for 47 county governments, members of the regional Parliaments and representatives of youth and women.
The March elections are the first under Kenya's new constitution, promulgated in 2010. To promote decentralization, Kenyans will vote for a president and a host of local positions in 47 newly created counties.
Annan said it was important that all Kenyans have trust and confidence that the next government which will be formed after March 4 elections will serve in everyone's interests. - SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua