Raila assures Kenyans there are no plans to shift election

Written By Michael Maunda on Monday, September 17, 2012 | 10:04 PM

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has assured Kenyans that elections would be held in March but asked the international community to help prepare for the polls.

Speaking at the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi, the PM said Kenya would hold peaceful elections.
“Elections in this country are going to be peaceful. They will be on the 4th of March next year, not August. I have spoken to the chairman of the IEBC and he has assured me. Those talking of August probably live in another country,” he said.

“Nevertheless, major challenges remain in implementing the Constitution and I encourage Sweden and other development partners to continue to speak out,” he said.
Mr Odinga was speaking days after some MPs started poking holes in preparations for the elections, with some suggesting August as ideal.

On Friday, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim said on a TV talk show there were too many hurdles to the March polls.

Earlier, Swedish International Development Cooperation Minister Gunilla Carlsson said she expected cooperation between her country and Kenya to grow, “but there are still some things we feel should be done.”

“Free, fair and peaceful elections would consolidate stability and pave way for Kenya to grow. We are ready to assist Kenyans fulfil this ambition,” she said.

The PM, however, said recent protests in Mombasa and clashes in Tana River County where scores were killed should not be used as a yardstick.

“I want you to know that all of us, the leaders of this government, vividly remember the tragedy that followed the elections in 2007. None of us want to go there again,” he said.
Elsewhere, President Kibaki called for the quick hearing of cases involving persons who incite Kenyans to violence.

“Kenyans will be looking forward to the prompt hearing of cases involving persons who incite others to engage in violence ahead of the elections,” the President said.  “The Executive and Judiciary should work closely and send a clear message that the Kenya we are building has no place for agents of violence and terror.”

The message is likely to send shivers down the spines of politicians facing hate speech charges.
Last week, Livestock assistant minister and Galole MP Dhadho Godhana was charged in connection with the violence that has claimed over 100 lives in Tana Delta. President Kibaki promptly suspended him pending the outcome of the case.

Cabinet ministers Chirau Ali Mwakwere and Jamleck Kamau and Limuru MP Peter Mwathi are also grappling with hate speech charges.

The President was speaking at the swearing in of new High Court judges at State House, Nairobi, on Monday.