Regional bloc optimistic Kenyan polls to be peaceful

NAIROBI, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) — Africa’s largest trading bloc on Sunday expressed optimism that Kenya’s Aug. 8 polls will be peaceful.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) said all the players in the presidential contest have pledged to urge their supporters to maintain peace.

“We are therefore optimistic that polls will be peaceful given the commitment of all stakeholders,” COMESA Election Observer Mission Head Simbi Mubako told journalists in Nairobi during the flagging off of their team to the different parts of the country.

The observation team, which has been in the country since July 30, will visit 29 counties in the country to monitor electoral activities.

Mubako said his team, which will remain in Kenya until Aug. 10, also plans to release a preliminary report on the elections.

He said that the fact that the 2013 elections were largely peaceful indicates that Kenya has matured democratically.

“Even those who disputed the electoral outcomes went to court instead of engaging in violence,” he added.

The COMESA official said that Kenyans themselves have said that they will maintain peace because the 2007 post-election violence was a traumatic experience.

In addition, he noted that the presidential candidates have said openly that they will accept the outcome of the election.

Mubako, who once served as Zimbabwe’s minister of justice, noted that Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has prepared adequately to conduct transparent, free and fair elections.

“The organization of the election process is much better as compared to the 2013 general elections,” the COMESA official said.