Modibo Touré is UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, a.i. Kenya.
28 Feb 2013
Next Monday, in a crucial test of Kenya’s new political system, millions of voters will head to the polls to elect a new president and a host of parliamentary and local representatives.
With the 2007/2008 post-electoral violence on everyone’s mind, it would be easy to forget how much progress the country has made over the past five years. 2008 ushered in a new government coalition and a peace deal, paving the way for the adoption in 2010 of a constitution that would transform the country’s political landscape.
Opportunities under the new constitution offered a wide-ranging set of reforms designed to break the cycle of corruption and tribal violence, including a decentralized system of government, independent courts, a new citizens’ Bill of Rights and increased numbers of women in public office.
UNDP accompanied the reform process from the beginning, supported the organization of a peaceful constitutional referendum and assisted the government in the creation of a country-wide platform that has helped communities to report and respond to violence.
Kenyans are justified in the very high degree of confidence which they have in the neutrality and capability of the bodies which will oversee the forthcoming elections – in particular the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) and the Supreme Court of Kenya.
We have been working hard to help the country ensure next week’s elections are peaceful and credible. That support is wide-ranging. It includes training Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials, educating voters and ensuring political parties work with each other to avoid a repeat of the 2007 violence.
Because women have a fundamental role to play in preventing violence, a women’s situation room has been set up to monitor and report incidents as well as spread messages of peace.
Ultimately, however, the success of the elections and reform process will depend on the willingness of Kenyan leaders and citizens to carry that agenda forward.
My sincere hope is that Kenyans will come out in large numbers to participate in the elections peacefully. If successful, these elections will consolidate the impressive democratic gains the country has made and put Kenya on a path of unity, peace, stability and growth.