US, UK congratulate Kenyans, promise continued 'close ties'

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony at the State Department March 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. The US has congratulated the people of Kenya for a peaceful election. PHOTO | AFP 

US Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday congratulated Kenyans for conducting a peaceful election, which he called "an historic opportunity for the people of Kenya to come together to build a better future."

This came as a spokesman for the defeated challenger to the new President said it would not seek US help in mounting a legal challenge in the courts.

British minister for Africa Mark Simmonds also congratulated Kenyans for the peaceful election. "Kenyans have expressed their sovereign will, and I congratulate all the candidates who have been successful," he said in a statement.

The secretary of state and Mr Simmonds did not explicitly mention President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta.

The United States has kept its distance from Mr Kenyatta following his indictment by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.

The Obama administration has said Kenya would face unspecified "consequences" if it chose a certain leader, widely assumed to be Mr Kenyatta.

In his announcement on Saturday, Secretary of State Kerry made no explicit reference to US policy toward Kenya now that Mr Kenyatta has been officially declared the winner of the presidential election.

But he did indicate that the US will remain closely allied with Kenya.

"Since its independence in 1963," he said, "Kenya has been one of America’s strongest and most enduring partners in Africa. We stand with you at this historic moment and will continue to be a strong friend and ally of the Kenyan people."

Ms Jendayi Frazer, who held the State Department's Africa post prior to Ambassador Carson, last week reiterated her suggestion that the United States would have to carry on "business-as-usual" with Kenya if Mr Kenyatta were chosen.

Kenya is vital to US "national interests," Ms Frazer said. Her view was seconded by Prof Joel Barkan, a US expert in Kenyan politics.

Raila- no US help

Secretary Kerry added on Saturday: "We strongly urge all parties and their supporters to peacefully address any disputes with today’s announcement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission through the Kenyan legal system, rather than on the streets."

Mr Kenyatta's nearest challenger Raila Odinga has said he will dispute the electoral result in the country's Supreme Court.

In a related development Mr Odinga does not intend to ask the United States to assist in his legal challenge to Mr Kenyatta's declared election victory, Mr Odinga's spokesman told the Daily Nation on Saturday.

"We are not approaching the State Department for help," Salim Lone said in an interview in New York.

"It is not like 2007 when all our internal systems broke down. Now we have a Supreme Court that very many Kenyans trust, which is where this fight will be fought now," Mr Lone added.

"People will respect what the Supreme Court decides."

Mr Lone spoke in response to a question as to whether Mr Odinga would seek US support for their Cord coalition allegations of serious flaws in the vote count.

Mr Lone added that Mr Odinga is not claiming he is the rightful winner of the election.

Rather, it is the prime minister's position that the "flaws" in the vote count were "sufficient to have pushed Uhuru's total to the point where he could be declared the winner by the IEBC."

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