Nic Hailey calls for press freedom and dialogue to unite Kenya following divisive election

The UK High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey has called for dialogue between
stakeholders in the country to “heal some of the deep divisions” which were exposed by the recent election campaign.

Speaking in Nanyuki yesterday, Mr Hailey also called on the Kenyan government to allow the media to operate freely, after three leading TV stations were taken off air during the ”swearing in” of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Responding to questions from journalists, the High Commissioner said:

“I have made clear, as have many international friends of Kenya, for some time that what we would like to see is a full, transparent, open dialogue between politicians and between others; religious leaders, business leaders, civil society, designed to heal some of the very deep divisions that were clearly exposed during the election campaign. I do not believe that any parallel inauguration helps to create such a dialogue. The UK has been very clear that our support is for the constitution and for the law and that those acting outside those things should not be doing so but should be acting in the spirit of promoting dialogue.

“So we continue to call on both sides to find ways and indeed on Kenyans of goodwill from all parts of the country to find ways of taking to each other about how the institutions of the country can be strengthened and how everyone can feel included for the futire of the country. And that’s an exercise for Kenyans to lead but I stand ready to support that as I  know do my international friends.

“On the question of the media, I would just say that one of the strongest things about this country, one of the reasons that so many investors are headquartered here, that so many people come here that this country is the capital, the hub of the region, and one of the hubs of the continent, is because of the open democratic, free media, that sense for people from countries like mine feel at home, the sense that people can have open debates in public. And so I would urge the government, as I have done, to allow the media to operate freely. Not simply because it’s the thing to do, but because it contributes very strongly to the positive image that Kenya has in the world.”