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East Africa bloc appeals for peace in Kenya

NAIROBI – East Africa’s regional bloc on Sunday called on Kenyans to remain peaceful and avoid acts of violence that may plunge the country into a constitutional crisis ahead of the fresh presidential polls in late October.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said it was concerned by political developments in Kenya that might jeopardise the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) from conducting credible fresh elections on Oct. 26.

“IEBC must thus not be crippled from executing this mandate. Sabotaging IEBC or boycotting the elections will put Kenya in a constitutional crisis and likely on a path to unconstitutional change of government,” IGAD Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Maalim said certain political statements and actions may dent people’s confidence in the ability of the IEBC to manage the fresh presidential elections.

He also called on Kenyans to desist from making unrealistic demands that frustrate IEBC from conducting fresh presidential elections, adding that calls to boycott the fresh presidential elections put Kenya on a dangerous path.

In line with the position by the African Union, Maalim said, the bloc holds that unconstitutional change of government does not only include military coup d’état; use of mercenaries, rebels or armed dissidents against democratically elected governments; or the refusal by an incumbent government to relinquish power to the winning party after free, fair and periodic elections, but also includes use of violence to undermine constitutionalism and political interference with the constitutional order of a state in order to imperil democratic change of government.

According to Maalim, as the Supreme Court determined, IEBC has to make certain critical administrative adjustments and correct certain errors that became evident on the August 8 general elections.

Odinga has maintained that he will not participate in the October 26 fresh elections until certain reforms and changes are implemented in the IEBC.

Both Kenyatta and Odinga have accused each other of entrenching divisive and tribal politics as fresh polls loom, with the leaders seemingly casting away their campaign promises and engaging in bare-knuckle politics.

The Supreme Court sitting in Nairobi on September 1 voted 4-2 to nullify Kenyatta’s re-election with 54 percent of the vote against Raila Odinga, his challenger with 44 percent of the vote.

Odinga with his National Super Alliance (NASA) party contested the election results and filed a petition at the apex court to have them overturned.

The nullification of Kenya’s victory in the August 8 presidential elections came after foreign observer missions had unanimously endorsed the voting exercise declaring it peaceful, free and fair.

Maalim said IGAD, based on its prior assessment, is confident that the electoral body can execute its constitutional mandate to facilitate the expression by the Kenyan people of their sovereignty.

“IGAD urges all actors in Kenya to reject those who would seek to interfere with the constitutional order by seeking to disrupt or prevent the court-mandated fresh presidential election, thus putting in peril democratic change of government and ushering in a crisis from which unscrupulous actors can seek undemocratic change of government,” he said.

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