US President Barack Obama's top official on Africa Johnnie Carson has cautioned the Kenyan electorate that the choice of president they make during the March 4 polls "would have global consequences."
Speaking yesterday from Washington via video link with reporters at the United States Embassy in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Carson appeared to differ with President Barack Obama who on Tuesday issued a statement from the White House suggesting the United States government was ready to accept and respect the choice the Kenyan voters made.
Carson, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said that though the ‘general elections’ is a Kenyan affair, its outcome would have repercussions as 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 said.
“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.”
Obama further urged Kenyans to reject incitement that could lead to violence as witnessed in the country following the 2007 disputed elections.
“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, as quoted by The Standard.
Carson further echoed Obama’s message that the polls should be free and fair. He said, the country’s leaders have to be held responsible for “their actions before during and after the election”.
The envoy further expressed that peaceful elections would guarantee the nation’s stability in addition to attracting foreign investments thus fueling its economic growth.
“Accountability for electoral violence including that experienced in 2007/8 is an important part of building a peaceful and prosperous county,” Carson said, while highlighting the drop in economic growth experienced after the 2007 general election.
Presidential candidates Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Alliance and Raila Odinga of the CORD coalition hailed Obama’s message for reform and democracy.
Carson however declined to comment on whether the US government would impose sanctions on Kenyans if Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto are elected, arguing it would be preemptive and hypothetical.
Mr. Kenyatta and Ruto are due to stand trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague in April, just a month after general elections. The ICC accuses Kenyatta, currently the deputy prime minister, of directing youth from his Kikiyu ethnic community to fight Odinga’s Luo supporters in 2007 -- charges he denies.