By Julian Pecquet - 02/05/13 10:34 PM EST
President Obama touts his personal “connection to Kenya” in a video urging the east African nations' voters to conduct a “free and fair vote” on March 4.
The video, which starts with a greeting in Swahili, urges Kenyans to “come together” and avoid a repeat of the disputed elections of 2007 that left more than 800 people dead and about 200,000 displaced. Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., was a senior government economist in Kenya, and the president still has family in the country.
“I've been grateful for my connection to Kenya,” Obama says in the video.
“We all know what makes for successful elections. Kenya must reject intimidation and violence, and allow a free and fair vote,” he says. “Kenyans must resolve disputes in the courts, not in the streets.”
Obama adds that while the United States does not support any particular candidate, “we do support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people.”
“This election can be another milestone toward a truly democratic Kenya, defined by the rule of the law and strong institutions,” he said. If Kenyans “come together instead of tearing apart … you can show the world that you are not just a member of a tribe or ethnic group, but citizens of a great and proud nation.”
Successful elections, he says, would be a powerful message on the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence from Great Britain.