At a Meeting with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission And Civil Society
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me say how pleased I am to be meeting with representatives of the Kenyan Elections Commission and civil society at such an important time in the history of this great country.
I’ve had the opportunity already today in my meetings with the President and the Prime Minister, with the Chief Justice and the Speaker, to discuss the importance of a credible, transparent, free, and fair election process. The Kenyan people have demonstrated a great commitment to their own democracy, most recently with the successful referendum on the new constitution.
But we know that there are challenges, and this is the opportunity to meet those going forward. Not only is this important for the people of Kenya, but the eyes of the world will be on this election. And I have absolute confidence that Kenya has a chance to be a model for other nations, not just here in Africa but around the world.
On the other hand, the unrest that can result from a disputed election has a terrible cost, both in lives lost and in economic impact. The instability that followed the last election cost the Kenyan economy, by most estimates, more than one billion dollars. So it’s essential for government and civil society to work together. And of course, the Elections Commission has a special responsibility to ensure that the votes and aspirations of the people are reflected accurately and fairly.
And so I’m here today to listen and learn what the United States can do to support these very important efforts. We are committed to our partnership. We are proud to be a partner and a friend of Kenya, and we want to continue doing all we can to help this country continue its path forward.
So with that, I’ll take maybe one or two questions.
MODERATOR: The gentleman over here, by the camera.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. My name is (inaudible). (Inaudible) Chinese influence? And second question is (inaudible) will you come to terms?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Can I come what?
QUESTION: To terms.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Terms. Come to terms. Well, on the first question, the United States has a long history in Africa, working with countries on behalf of democracy and human rights, on behalf of healthcare and education, on economic development. We have signature programs like the African Growth and Opportunity Act, like the PEPFAR program for HIV/AIDS, for the Feed the Future program to improve agricultural output. Our emphasis has always been on supporting the lives of individuals and the democratic aspirations of people. So that is the value of what we try to offer. So what we’re interested in is how to be the best partner and friend. And that’s what I’m doing here in Kenya. We had a series of very comprehensive and constructive meetings today on a full range of issues that are important bilaterally between us, but also regionally and globally.
Of course, what happens in the elections is up to the people of Kenya. They’re the ones who will make the decisions. But we, as a partner and friend, are certainly hoping that this election, which is a complex election – there are many different ballot positions that will all be voted on the same time – goes so smoothly that everyone is so proud the next day because of what has been achieved, and that people who are unsuccessful – remember I’ve been in politics. I have won elections and I have lost elections. And when you lose an election and when your supporters see you lose and election, it’s important that they have to see that the process was fair. And that’s what we hope for here for our friends in Kenya.
MODERATOR: I think Matt had a question.
QUESTION: Yes, I do. Madam Secretary, you know – as you know, the South Sudan and Sudan have come to an agreement on oil (inaudible). I was wondering a) what do you think about? And also B) what would constitute similar success from your visits to Uganda? Would that be – what would that be, (inaudible) in the way of success and also (inaudible) hunt for Joseph Kony? And then again, (inaudible) that kind of success?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I welcome the agreement on oil reached between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. This agreement reflects leadership and a new spirit of compromise on both sides. And I particularly praise the courage of the Republic of South Sudan leadership in taking this decision.
As I said in Juba yesterday, the interests of the people of South Sudan were truly at stake. The oil impasse has lasted more than six months. It was time to bring it to a close for the good of the people of South Sudan and their aspirations for a better future amidst the many challenges they face there, a nation that’s only one year and a few days old. And they have to turn to educating their people, providing healthcare, establishing strong democratic institutions.
And South Sudan’s leaders, led by President Salva Kiir, have really risen to the occasion, for which they deserve a great deal of credit. They tabled a bold, comprehensive proposal in the latest round of talks and an agreement was hammered out with the strong assistance of the African Union. And I think it’s to the great benefit of South Sudan and to Sudan.
Regarding your second and third questions, it is a great privilege and pleasure for me to be traveling as I am this week throughout Africa, meeting with a lot of old friends and meeting new people who are committed to the futures of their countries.
Clearly, we are very focused on the international hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army that has caused so much terrible damage and violence over so many years, and we had very good discussions with the Uganda People’s Defense Force on that. And we also covered a range of issues in my long conversation with President Museveni that we will be following up on.
And similarly here in Kenya, we’ve had very comprehensive discussions on economics, on humanitarian issues, the refugee issues, the very important contributions that Kenyan forces are making to AMISOM, to the work we’re doing in agriculture and so much else. And now I’m looking forward to hearing from the Elections Commission. Thank you all.