Western countries urge Kenya to take steps for smooth polls

Eleven representatives of western countries in Kenya say voters must have confidence that the electoral commission and judiciary are impartial and efficient ahead of polls next year.

In a joint statement Wednesday the diplomats, who included U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, said with elections in 15 months it is time for Kenyans to consider the steps needed to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.

Kenya's main opposition leaders, protestant churches and Central Organization of Trade Unions have called for the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on the grounds of corruption and alleged bias.

Violence following a disputed Dec. 2007 presidential election, which the international community said was flawed, killed more than 1,000 and forced 600,000 others to flee their homes.