Kenya election reactions: West cautious while China, African countries positive

Kenya President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta his family attend a church service at Gatundu Catholic Church in central Kenya on March 10. 2013. With him is his wife Margaret and his children. NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Western nations were Sunday silent on how they will work with the new Kenyan government to be headed by President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta even as the Chinese congratulated the Jubilee flagbearer.

Even though Britain, the United States of America, Canada and the European Union in separate messages, praised Kenyans for holding peaceful elections, they avoided naming Mr Kenyatta and only offered blanket congratulations to all those elected.

UN boss Ban Ki-moon also refrained from mentioning Mr Kenyatta. A statement by Mr Ban's spokesman said the UN chief "has noted the results" of Kenya's election.

Mr Ban "congratulates the people of Kenya for their impressive determination to participate peacefully in the elections, and for the patience they have demonstrated while awaiting the results," it added.

African countries including South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia have however been more forthcoming, directly congratulating the winner of Kenya's March 4 election.

Western countries had previously warned that it would not be business as usual should Mr Kenyatta and his deputy president elect William Ruto, all of whom are facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court, win the March 4 elections.

The countries consequently sent coded messages that Kenya’s choices at the elections had consequences, which was interpreted by many as warnings against voting for Mr Kenyatta.

This triggered an angry reaction from Mr Kenyatta's Jubilee coalition which dismissed it as unwanted foreign interference in domestic matters as well as a plot by foreign powers to impose a preferred candidate.

Yesterday, the US Secretary of State John Kerry said even though his country will remain closely allied with Kenya, he did not reveal whether its foreign policy towards Kenya had changed now that Mr Kenyatta had officially been declared the winner of the presidential election.

“ We stand with you at this historic moment and will continue to be a strong friend and ally of the Kenyan people,” said Mr Kerry.

Court decisions

Britain on the other hand said with the elections, Kenyans had expressed their sovereign will.

The country’s Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds said; “This is a historic moment for Kenya, when the Kenyan people have come together at the ballot box to achieve the promise of the new Constitution and choose their future leaders.

I am confident that any disputes will be dealt with by the courts swiftly and fairly. We value our historic partnership with Kenya, and will continue to work in support of stability, security, development and prosperity,” added Mr Simmonds.

Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya David Angell said Kenyans exercised their democratic rights in electing their leaders.

“Millions of Kenyans stood calmly and patiently in line for several hours in order to exercise their right to vote for presidential, parliamentary and county candidates,” he said.

The European Union, through its Foreign Affairs boss Catherine Ashton, while congratulating Kenyans for conducting a peaceful process, said the rule of law must be maintained in Kenya at all times.

“It is particularly important that the rule of law should prevail. Went on the statement;

“The EU is confident that any disputes will be dealt with by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the established judicial mechanisms swiftly and fairly,” she went on.

The Chinese government however congratulated President-Elect Uhuru Kenyatta for winning the just-concluded elections and Kenyans for voting peacefully.

'Friendly relations'

The Chinese embassy in Kenya said they were looking forward to working with the new President when he formally takes office.

"The elections were conducted peacefully and smoothly. We congratulate Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, the president-elect of Kenya. We hope to push forward our friendly relations with the coming government,” said embassy’s spokesman Shifan Wu said

Former UN boss Kofi Annan, on behalf of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, applauded the calm exhibited by Kenyans as they waited patiently for the results of the election and urged them to always remain peaceful.

Mr Annan said he was encouraged by the move by Cord’s Presidential candidate Raila Odinga to contest the outcome of the election as provided for in the constitution – through the courts.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Saturday congratulated Uhuru Kenyatta for winning Kenya's presidential election.

"We would like to congratulate the new president and say well done," Mr Zuma told reporters, saying Kenyatta's trial at the ICC would not affect ties between South Africa and Kenya.

"Our simple understanding is that anyone who has been indicted is innocent until proven guilty, so why should you punish a man before the man is found guilty, who knows what will be the result of the case... he might be convicted, he might be acquitted."

Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon also congratulated Mr Kenyatta. PM Shirdon called the election in Kenya democratic and exemplar and promised closer collaboration between his government and the government in Kenya.

“We shall take all possible measures to boost cooperation between Somalia’s government and the Kenyan," he said.