US to give Sh25 billion to support the 2017 elections, John Kerry

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US Secretary of State John Kerry and Uhuru Kenyatta in Statehouse Nairobi 2016
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Uhuru Kenyatta in Statehouse Nairobi 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday announced a massive monetary support for electoral activities in Kenya but urged Kenyan leaders to resolve their differences on electoral reforms through dialogue.

At a press conference in Nairobi, Mr Kerry said next year’s elections will determine how Kenya steers clear of the violence it had in 2008 before passing a new Constitution in 2010.

“In today’s world, it is really hard to have prosperity without good governance. I urge that disagreements on policy and process be resolved peacefully. The United States does not favour any single party or another but we favour a free, orderly and transparent election,” he said.

“Holding a free and fair and peaceful election next year is a really critical step in unlocking the potential of the 2010 Constitution…holding a successful election is a whole of a society’s effort: You need political leaders, business people to come together not through violence but in dialogue,” he said.

Mr Kerry announced the US will spend up to Sh25 billion to support electoral activities such as the participation of women and youths and improving mechanisms for electoral dispute resolution.

“Kenya has come a long way since the elections in 2007. It is up to leaders on all sides to ensure that violence that took place in the aftermath of that election is never repeated. United States does not favour one party over another but we strongly support a fair, accountable, transparent, orderly, credible, non-violent electoral process and we will do everything we can to assist Kenyans as they work towards that goal,” he said.

FURTHER CONSULTATIONS SOUGHT ON IEBC

His sentiments came as Kenyan leaders haggle over the form the changes to the electoral system should take.

Last week, a joint parliamentary select committee completed a report with suggestions that could see current commissioners at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) leave office before the end of September and new ones appointed.

But politicians from the Cord and Jubilee coalitions are still bickering on whether Jubilee benefited more from the talks.

The parliamentary team’s report is expected to be approved by the National Assembly and the Senate, but Cord leader Raila Odinga has called for further consultations on how to appoint new IEBC commissioners.

Mr Kerry, who earlier met with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, said he appreciated the steps made in making those reforms, but said leaders must refrain from any violence.

“It is critical that everybody else feels confident in that process. We are investing but in the end, this is your country and we do not step on any toes. We will do it in a helpful and permissive way,” he said.

Mr Kerry spoke after meeting with foreign ministers from Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan.

He also pledged US support for peace programmes and the fight against violent extremism in the region.

Specifically, the US will be sending in more than $117 million to help Somalia and Kenya resettle refugees, with an additional $29 million going to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR