NAIROBI, Kenya — U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson appeared to contradict the stand taken by President Obama on Kenya’s March 4 polls, with a caution on Thursday that the country’s choice of president “would have global consequences.”
Speaking from Washington via video link to reporters at the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Carson warned that as much as the general election was a Kenyan affair, its outcome will have implications since a president “must work with the international community.”
“Individuals have reputations; individuals have images, histories and reputations. When they are selected to lead their countries, those reputations do not go away from them, they are not separated,” Carson cautioned.
“We as the United States do not have a candidate or a choice in the elections; however, choices have consequences. We live in an interconnected world and people should be thoughtful about the impact their choices have on their nation, economy, region and the world in which they live,” he advised.
On Tuesday, Obama issued a statement from the White House saying the U.S. was prepared to accept and respect whatever choice the Kenyan electorate make on March 4.
Obama also urged Kenyans to reject incitement, which could lead to the violence that was witnessed in the country after the disputed election of 2007.
“The choice of who will lead Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The United States does not endorse any candidate for office, but we do support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people,” Obama said on Tuesday.
Carson repeated Obama’s plea that the election be free and fair and without intimidation. The envoy said that the country’s leaders had to be held responsible for their actions before, during, and after the election.
He said that a peaceful and successful election will guarantee the nation’s stability and continue to attract foreign investment and fuel the country’s economic growth.
“Accountability for electoral violence, including that experienced in 2007/8, is an important part of building a peaceful and prosperous county,” added Carson, highlighting the drop in economic growth experienced after the 2007 general election.
Obama’s message on Tuesday was welcomed by presidential candidates Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Alliance and a day later, by Raila Odinga of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy.
Source: Capital FM (Nairobi)
2 thoughts on “U.S. Intervenes in Kenya’s Presidential Elections”
I remember how on December 30 2002 Johnnie Carson was hussled by a mob that had gathered at Nairobi's Uhuru park to swear in Kenya's new president Mwai Kibaki.
Johnnie, who was then US ambassandor to Kenya arrived in a beautiful blue BMW 700 series flying the American flag. The mob would not let him into the park through the official entrance opposite the Serena Hotel despite many appeals by his aides.He had to to use an alterntive route and entered the park through Afya House. On reaching the dias, the seat reserved for the ambassandor was already occupied by a mere Kenyan peasant. Johnnie witnessed the swearing in of the new President while up standing.
I witnessed these events in 2002. Something very unusual was happening in my country. it has continued to this day as we go into another election with the real possibility of electing a president and deputy president who are facing trial at the ICC.Peter Drucker in his book "the new realities" points out at how a single not so significat event can herald a complete change in world politics or economic relations.
Johnnie Carson continues to play diplomacy the same old old ways. Perhaps he should reflect on the events of that sunny morning in Nairobi and accept that something has changed big time.
Take a leaf from President Obama. Africa needs new approaches. Change has come to Africa.