NAIROBI, March 4 (Xinhua) -- The Africa Union observer mission has called on them to exercise their civic rights peacefully, as 14.3 million Kenyan voters lined up on Monday to elect the country's new fourth president and host of local leaders.
The Head of the African Union Election Observation Mission (AU- EOM), President Joaquim Chissano and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also urged all the candidates and parties to commit to a non-violent electoral process and to abide by the code of conduct that they have all signed.
"The AU-EOM expressed its satisfaction in the preparation of the elections, and hailed the optimism of the stakeholders," the pan African body's observer mission said in a joint statement issued in Nairobi on Sunday evening ahead of Monday's polls.
Zuma said the AU-EOM will observe the general elections in accordance with the AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa and the AU Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring.
The AU-EOM on Sunday met with a number of presidential candidates, the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Inspector-General of Police, National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Kenyan Emminent Personalities, Muslim and Christian Leaders, diplomatic communities, and other stakeholders involved in the conduct of the elections.
"After holding meetings and discussions with the various groups, the AU-EOM commends the significant progress made since 2007 by adopting a new Constitution, reforming the judiciary system and the police, passing the Elections Act and creating a number of independent commissions," the statement said.
The AU has over 65 Observers, including five Long Term Observers.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who spoke briefly with journalists after the meeting underscored the importance of these elections for the AU and for the advancement of Africa's agenda for democracy and respect of rule of law.
The March elections are the first under Kenya's new constitution, promulgated in 2010. To promote decentralization, Kenyans will vote for a president and a host of local positions in 47 newly created counties.
Observers say the polls are significant because they will be the very first to be held since the 2007/2008 post election violence, when, within a seven-week period following the polls, and as a direct consequence of the contested results, thousands of civilians were victims of serious crimes, including killings, sexual and gender based violence, forced internal displacements, destruction of properties.