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US urges calm Kenya elections

02 March 2013, 16:52

Washington - The United States said on Friday that Kenya was facing a "historic opportunity" in next week's elections as it urged all Kenyans to vote peacefully for a new president.

Leading candidates have pledged there will be no repeat of the bloodshed that followed the disputed 2007 polls in Kenya in which more than 1 100 people were killed and around 600 000 fled their homes.

But tensions are running high, and the United States is watching events closely, saying it was a moment for "Kenya to take another bold step in implementing its new constitution and strengthening its democracy".

"We hope that all Kenyans, no matter their gender, ethnicity, religion, or geographic affiliation, will exercise their right to vote peacefully... and put the collective interests of their country first," state department deputy acting spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said.

The United States has contributed more than $35m to support electoral reform in Kenya since 2010 and over $90m on constitutional reform efforts and civil society and youth groups.

"We stand together with all Kenyans, committed to the promise of a new constitution and to a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future," Ventrell added.



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