SA wishes Kenya well ahead of elections

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pretoria - South Africa has wished the government and people of Kenya successful, peaceful and democratic elections, which are set to take place on Monday.

“Recalling the positive developments that have taken place in Kenya since 2007, the South African Government is confident that the elections in Kenya on 4 March 2013 will contribute to the consolidation of democracy,” said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Thursday.

Monday’s elections are the first under Kenya's new constitution, promulgated in 2010. To promote decentralisation, Kenyans will vote for a president and a host of local positions in 47 newly created counties.

They will also vote for members of the newly created Senate and Parliament.

South African officials, under the African Union Election Observation Mission, and various other accredited monitoring teams will participate in monitoring the elections.

Meanwhile, Kenya's security agencies and the electoral body charged with overseeing the elections said they were fully prepared for the exercise.

Briefing President Mwai Kibaki on their preparations earlier this week, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman, Isaack Hassan, and the Inspector General of Police, David Kimaiyo, said adequate measures were in place to make next week's polls successful.

During the meeting on Wednesday, Kimaiyo said he had deployed a contingent of heavily armed police officers to the country's major hotspots as a precautionary measure to avert chaos following the heated political campaigns in the area.

"The mobilisation of 99 000 security officials has begun in all parts of the country and 85 persons have been arrested for committing various election offences," the police chief said.

The Inspector General informed the meeting that an investigation had been launched and action would be taken against those behind the distribution of negative leaflets in parts of the country.

"Police are under instruction to deal firmly with anyone who will try to disrupt the voting process. There will be proper security checks before voters enter polling stations," Kimaiyo said.

The authorities have found leaflets inciting violence being distributed in some areas as 14.3 million Kenyans gear up for the Monday general elections.

The leaflets are apparently intended to spread fear and panic among Kenyans of different ethnic communities living in lakeside city of Kisumu, Naivasha in Rift Valley and the coastal city of Mombasa.

After the last general elections in 2007, inter-ethnic clashes and police violence left about 1 300 people dead and 650 000 displaced.

During the meeting, President Kibaki appealed to all Kenyans to maintain peace so as to ensure a free and fair election.

He encouraged all the candidates to preach peace and make public commitments to respect the will of the Kenyan people. The President also appealed for calm and sobriety in the final days of the campaigns. –