RB to lead Carter centre election observer team in Kenya

FORMER United States President Jimmy Carter has written to His Excellency Rupiah Bwezani Banda, the Fourth President of the Republic of Zambia, appointing him leader of a 50-person Carter Centre international observer mission for next month’s general elections in Kenya.

In a letter dated February 1, 2013, President Carter said he was grateful to President Banda for his past service on election observer missions in the Republic of Sierra Leone in 2012 and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011.

“Staff have reported to me your immense contributions to Sierra Leone’s recent election, where your leadership and diplomacy contributed to acceptance of results and a peaceful post-election period,” said the 39th US President who served from 1977 to 1981.

The Kenyan general elections will be held on March 4, 2013 to elect a new president after the expiry of incumbent President Mwai Kibaki’s two terms in office.

In inviting President Banda to the Kenyan elections, President Carter made special mention of the former Zambian head of State’s ability to add value to the Carter Centre delegation in Kenya.

“I invite you to serve as a leader to our delegation. Your experience, knowledge and political leadership would be invaluable to the mission. I hope that you will be able to join us,” wrote the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

And President Banda says he is honoured by the invitation to lead the Carter Centre delegation to Kenya, stressing that he will always be available to play his part in helping election observer missions whose purpose is to ensure free and fair elections which the African continent is in great need of.

“I am grateful to the Carter Centre and all the other observer missions that have requested for my participation in their programmes. I will never shy away from continuing being of service to my continent and humanity in general,” said the former Zambian head of State.

Last month, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), in partnership with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and the Kenyatta University School of Law invited President Banda to deliver a keynote speech at an international conference called to prepare for the elections.

Apart from leading the Carter Centre missions to Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Banda was also head of the EISA observer mission to the National Assembly elections in the Royal Kingdom of Lesotho in 2012.