President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the end of a historic visit to Germany, has pledged free and credible elections next year on the back of an entrenched democratic culture in Kenya.
The Government will find cash to finance registration of all eligible Kenyans as voters — at home and abroad — ahead of next year’s general elections, the President told Kenyans in Berlin on Thursday night.
Kenyans at home and in the diaspora had equal rights to register as voters and participate in choosing their future leaders and this would be adhered to, he told a 1,000-strong ecstatic audience.
Discussions were on-going between the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the National Treasury on sourcing of funds to financing the elections activities, he said.
“I consider the diaspora as the 48th County and, like other Kenyans, are shareholders in the country and have equal right to quality services including facilitation to participate in the general elections,” said the President, the first Kenyan Head of State to make an official visit to Berlin in two decades.
President Kenyatta allayed fears that the elections will be manipulated in any way, assuring Kenyans and the international community that the poll will be free and credible.
“What Kenyans want is a free and fair electoral process and that’s what we are working to achieve”, President Kenyatta said.
He commended the Diaspora for the remittances that have maintained an upward trend in the country over the recent past, and which significantly contribute to the country’s foreign exchange inflows.
President Kenyatta said Kenyans abroad sacrificed immensely to remit money back home despite the high cost of living in host countries, a move that is appreciated by their families and a grateful nation.
The President also urged the Kenyans abroad to invest their cash in the many opportunities available, including in infrastructure development as well as renewable energy for which Germany is famous.
The diaspora group was also addressed by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who thanked them for the thunderous reception. She pledged to continue work to better the health sector, especially ensuring that mothers do not die while giving life.
Earlier on Thursday, President also met with members of the Eastern Africa/ Sub-Sahara Africa Region Group of the German parliament, where he discussed a wide range of issues.
The group is a critical constituency for lobbying for support of African and Eastern Africa Region programmes in Germany.
President Kenyatta spoke of the entrenched democratic space in Kenya and affirmed that Government had no intention of shrinking the political and legal space in which civil society operates.
President Kenyatta told the German MPs that while Non-Governmental Organisations and civil society supplemented the government in development through their humanitarian work in education, health and relief services, the law would be applied in respect of those that broke the law.
“Civil society is quick and vocal at holding the Government accountable but they themselves do not want to reveal the source of their funds and how they utilize them,” he said.
Government had no intention of interfering with the rights of NGOs and Civil society organisations, the President said, but the groups had to walk the talk by filing financial returns for scrutiny by the Kenyan parliament.
On regional matters, the President Kenyatta acknowledged progress made in stabilising Somalia, and called on the international community to enhance their support to regional peace and stability.
He urged the United Nations to consider fully supporting AMISOM at all levels commensurate with similar UN peace enforcement missions in the world.
“The UN should put in place timely modalities for transition from AMISOM to a UN Mission for sustainability, the President said.
President acknowledged Germany’s contribution to the EU Africa Peace Facility, which caters for AMISOM and called on the German Government to lobby EU at the bilateral level to consider increasing their individual contributions.
The Refugees are putting strain on Kenya’s resources at Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camps and appreciated Germany’s frontline role in funding of Refugee related Programmes, he added.
The President was accompanied by a lean delegation that included two ministers, Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed for Foreign Affairs and Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala for tourism. Germany is a major source market for tourists to Kenya.