Remarks by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Robert F. Godec
Nairobi, Kenya -- November 7, 2012
Election Morning Celebration
Good morning. Thank you for coming to watch the results of the American election today. I am honored to be here with you, representatives of the Government of Kenya, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Americans living in Kenya, Kenyan friends, and all of our esteemed guests.
First, I would like to congratulate President Obama on his re-election victory. Congratulations, too, to the many other candidates -- for national, state and local offices – who won their races.
Over the past many months, Americans and many others around the world have watched the U.S. election campaign. We have watched the campaign speeches, presidential debates, and news reports about the issues. We have followed polls and listened to pundits talk about who might win. We have discussed with family, friends, and colleagues the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. Through all of this, we held, in effect, a national dialogue, a dialogue that was democracy in action.
And yesterday, the American people made their decision. President Obama has been re-elected as President of the United States. As we congratulate him on his victory, we also celebrate the process – the electoral process of democracy, in which Americans freely, fairly, and peacefully chose their next leader.
The United States has over 230 years of experience with national elections. Our system has been tested many times over the years but has held up through close races and upset victories. It didn’t start out perfectly. Early on, only white males with property could vote. Over time, through the effort and sacrifice of men such as Martin Luther King Jr. and women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, we improved our system. As we eliminated restrictions on voting rights and brought down barriers, we became “a more perfect union.” Today, one of the great strengths of the U.S. democracy is that all of our citizens enjoy fundamental rights and essential freedoms. Today, all of our citizens participate in the democratic process without regard to race, religion, gender, or ethnic origin.
This morning, as we watch the results continue to come in, we see America choose its president and its leaders. In the act of choosing, in the millions of individual acts of voting, we also see the meaning of “self government.” We see, as President Abraham Lincoln so eloquently put it in his Gettysburg address, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
And now, for a moment, I’d like to turn to another election, a very important election that will happen in March of next year. I am sure you all know the election I’m referring to.
Kenya is a great nation. Kenyans are a great people. Together, Kenyans wrote and adopted a strong, modern constitution in August 2010. And Kenyans are now working to implement that constitution, to put in place reforms, and to build a better future. The next critical step on this path of reform will be the national, general election next March.
The United States and Kenya have been friends and partners for 50 years. As a friend and partner, the United States supports a free, fair, and peaceful election next year and we will do what we can to assist Kenya in reaching this goal. Since 2010, the United States has contributed more than $30 million – over 2.5 billion shillings – to help Kenya with the election. Our money has gone to civic education, voter education, technical capacity building, and training.
But, while we can help, this will be a Kenyan election. It will be your vote, your choice. A successful, credible, non-violent election next March will help secure Kenya’s future. It will build on the promise of the new constitution and help to take Kenyans another important step toward a more democratic, secure, and prosperous future.
Key to the success of the election will be a national dialogue in Kenya. A dialogue about the issues, the candidates, and what Kenyans want from their leaders. As the election campaign unfolds, all Kenyans will have a shared responsibility for choosing who will lead Kenya. And all Kenyans, no matter their ethnicity or gender, will have a shared responsibility through their own actions to help ensure the election is free, fair, and peaceful.
As in the United States, once the election is over and the outcome is clear, the transition will also be important. The United States has just had a hard fought, close presidential race. But although it was close, it remained peaceful. And even though today there are many Americans disappointed by the election results, all Americans recognize and accept the next president as our country’s leader.
The American Declaration of Independence makes clear that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed. This is not just an American value. It is a universal value. It is a value that binds us together - the United States and Kenya. As we celebrate the American election that took place yesterday, we look forward to the Kenyan election next March. America has charted its course for the next four years. Soon, Kenya will chart its way ahead too. In friendship, the United States will stand with all Kenyans who seek to make the election free, fair and peaceful.
Thank you for joining me this morning to watch the election results and to celebrate democracy in America and in Kenya. I look forward to a bright future for both our countries.