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LONDON - The Commonwealth Secretariat has held the second session of its Marlborough Dialogues in London today. The dialogues are a new forum for discussion with political leaders and thinkers from within the Commonwealth. 

Today the Marlborough Dialogues, welcomed the former Prime Minster of Kenya, the Rt Honourable Raila Odinga to London to speak on democracy and peace in Africa in the context of the forthcoming election in Kenya.  

The Marlborough Dialogues, which take their name from the historic headquarters building of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, provide an international platform for member states to explore solutions to their biggest challenges and the opportunity to discuss key issues affecting the development of free and democratic societies. 

Moderated by His Excellency George Brandis, High Commissioner of Australia to the UK, the session with former Prime Minister the Rt Honourable Raila Odinga examined democracy in Africa and peaceful transfers of power in the region - with a particular focus on Kenya's general election later this year. 

Ahead of the event, former Prime Minster the Rt Honourable Raila Odinga said: 

“Commonwealth values talk about good governance transparency and accountability of member states to their citizens we think that these are the core foundation of democracy, and we should not be judged by lower standards. The Commonwealth can ensure that as a member country Kenya adheres to these values and the Commonwealth Charter.  

Speaking on the upcoming Kenyan general election Mr Odinga added:  

“If the elections are free, fair, and verifiable, I give my undertaking to accept them, whether we win or we lose. We have a record of respecting court decisions and for the rule of law. We will not resort to violence or incitement but will only use legal and constitutional means to resolve any election disputes, if they arise.” 

The Marlborough Dialogues is one of a series of tools the Secretariat is using to deepen its interaction with member states, providing a forum to articulate their priorities, and to better align the Secretariat’s work to member states’ needs and aspirations. It is embedded within a whole-of-election cycle approach, whereby the Secretariat seeks to support democracy in member countries at all times and not only in election periods.  

Speaking at the event the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland said:  

“These sessions are an important opportunity for us to come together, and reaffirm our commitment to strengthening the culture, process and institutions of democracy. 

“Together, we work continually, and across the entire election cycle for sustainable democracy. We do not give up. These Marlborough Dialogues are underpinned by this same spirit of togetherness and integration, and in our shared commitment to peace.”

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