A visiting US senator says he has encouraged Kenya’s outgoing president to undertake a “peaceful transition of power” amid the latest election crisis in East Africa’s most stable democracy.
Senator Chris Coons told The Associated Press during his visit to Kenya on Thursday, “That was certainly a hope that I expressed today in talking with him that there would be a peaceful transition of power.”
Coons said he also discussed with President Uhuru Kenyatta ways in which Kenyatta can play a “constructive peacemaking role” after leaving office in the coming weeks.
Kenyatta has remained publicly silent since the August 9 election, adding to the anxiety as Kenya again faces post-election uncertainty and a likely court challenge by the losing candidate, Raila Odinga.
Coons, leading a congressional delegation on an Africa visit, was in Kenya in part to meet the key parties and urge that calm continue.
Kenyatta had backed long-time rival and opposition leader Odinga in the close race against his own deputy president, William Ruto, who fell out bitterly with Kenyatta years ago.
Ruto on Monday was declared the winner, but not before Kenya’s most peaceful election ever slid into chaos in the final moments.
The electoral commission split in two, each side accusing the other of trying to tinker with the results.
It came as a shock to many Kenyans after an election widely seen as the country’s most transparent ever, with results from the more than 46-thousand polling stations posted online.
Now Odinga almost certainly will challenge the results in Supreme Court. His campaign has seven days from Monday’s declaration to do so, and the court will have 14 days to rule.
Odinga has urged supporters to remain patient instead of taking to the streets in a country with a history of sometimes deadly post-election violence.
The US delegation also visited a medical center in Nairobi’s Kibera shantytown, funded in partnership with the US.
Coons, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and his delegation have already visited Cape Verde and Mozambique and will visit Tunisia as well.