Kenya: Barack Obama video message urges peaceful elections (VIDEO)


Then-Sen. Barack Obama with his step-grandmother and sister (left) at his ancestral home in the village of Siaya near Kisumu, northern Kenya, in August 2006. (Gary Knight/VII)


Gary Knight/VII

US President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, has released a video on YouTube urging citizens of the East African country to support a peaceful election process next month.

Kenya is holding elections for president and other offices on March 4, the Associated Press reported. During the last presidential election, in 2007, more than 1,000 people died in politically-related violence.

More from GlobalPost: Kenya to hold elections in March 2013

“Habari yako,” Obama said in Swahili on the video. “Over the years, I’ve been greatly moved by the warmth and the spirit, the strength and resolve of the Kenyan people. And I’ve been grateful for my connection to Kenya, and the way you’ve welcomed me and my family to your beautiful country, from my father’s village of Alego to the bustling city of Nairobi.”

"Kenya must reject intimidation and violence and allow a free and fair vote. Kenyans must resolve disputes in the courts, not in the streets," Obama continued. "Above all, the people of Kenya must come together before and after the election to carry on the work of building your country.”

Obama was estranged from his father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., a goat-herder turned economist who married Obama’s mother while a student at the University of Hawaii and divorced her when Obama was 3 years old. Obama Sr. died in a car accident in Kenya in 1982, BBC News reported.

The US president has visited Kenya three times, most recently in 2006, when he was a US Senator, according to the New York Times.