Topical debates — Kenya

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 1:14 pm, 17th January 2008

The hon. Gentleman may have misunderstood me. I was talking in a general sense about how Kenya's democracy had progressed. It was hoped, because of the conduct of previous elections, that the attendance of observers would not be necessary this time, but obviously the decision was made to send them. Concerns were raised by the EU election observers and other observer missions about alleged irregularities in the conduct of the elections. It is important that they are investigated fully through proper democratic and legal channels. Those early indications of the problem were taken into account.

Constitutional reform is important because it would help to ensure that Kenya's diversity is better reflected in its Government and could strengthen the prospect of future Governments carrying the broad confidence of the Kenyan people

I call for the lifting of the ban on live media broadcasts in Kenya and for respect for the right to peaceful assembly. It is important that all people have an outlet through which to express their views, and that the media can report objectively on events in Kenya. We hope quickly to establish the basis for restoring stability in Kenya and regaining the trust of its people in how they are governed. Until that happens, it cannot be business as usual. The United States and the EU made that clear in statements released over the weekend. The Department for International Development is keeping our development aid programme for Kenya under close review.

All Kenya's leaders need to overcome their divisions, to engage in a genuine process of reconciliation and to agree on a way to govern that reflects the democratic will of the Kenyan people. The Kenyan people, Kenya's business community and its international partners have had their confidence in the Government of Kenya damaged over the past three weeks. Kenya's politicians will have to work hard to win back that trust. Let us hope that the swearing-in on Tuesday of Kenya's 10th Parliament, the election of which broadly carried greater confidence in the eyes of observers, and the successful election of a Speaker and deputy Speaker will be a first step on that path.

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