US Congress members push for credible polls

Three members of the US Congress have introduced a resolution for the Kenyan government and political parties to hold a credible election.

They want democratic principles respected and peaceful polls held next month.

Representative Eliot Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Christopher Smith, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs sub-committee on Africa and Karen Bass, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs sub-committee on Africa, are behind the debate.

“The United States has long encouraged Kenya’s democratic consolidation, and I commend our ambassador to Kenya, Bob Godec, for his work on this issue in the past five years. However, with Kenya’s election less than a month away, I’m concerned about reports of delays in preparation and the fact that there may be insufficient time to test critical voting equipment,” Engel said.

“These delays contribute to an environment in which the credibility of the polls could be in question,” Engel said.

“We are introducing this resolution because we consider Kenya a key strategic partner of the US and because of the potential for the election to have far-reaching implications across the continent,” he added.

Engel said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government and the political parties must ensure wananchi participate in a free and fair process that allows them to have confidence in the accuracy of the results.

“Kenya has had two consecutive national elections –2007 and 2013– each of which has been marked by questionable results and violent aftermaths. We call on the ruling party, opposition parties and the election commission to work to ensure that the election in August is transparent,” Smith said.

“These elections present an opportunity for Kenya to work responsibly to mitigate violence and they also offer the country a chance to serve as an example for others in the region. I’m proud to support this important resolution and urge my colleagues to do so as well,” said Bass.

Engel said Kenya remains a key partner for the US in the promotion of regional security and as a hub for humanitarian assistance, finance, and transportation.

The resolution supports the assistance provided by the State Department and USAID for election-related preparations, as the US is the largest bilateral donor to Kenya’s electoral process.

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