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Letters To God: Kenyans appeal for peaceful election

Thousands of Kenyans are taking up pen and keyboars to write letters praying for a peaceful March presidential election. US President Obama's step-grandmother is joining the effort, aimed at avoiding the violence that followed the 2007 vote.

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Five years after a disputed presidential election unleashed interethnic violence that scarred this East African nation, Kenyans are bracing for a new election amid fears of a fresh outbreak of bloodletting.

But a growing number of Kenyans are challenging that fear with hope, with thousands taking up the call to “Write to God” with prayers that upcoming March 4 elections will be peaceful.

One of the best known Kenyans to join the effort is Sarah Onyango Obama, the US president’s step-grandmother. From her home in the western village of Nyang’oma Kogelo, Mrs. Obama wrote that Kenya had to take a path much different than that of Rwanda and its horrific 1994 genocide.

"But when I see conflicts on TV, I keep wondering if Kenyans value peace," she said in her letter which was posted in English and a local dialect on a Facebook page created for the letter drive.

The participation of the 90-year-old Mrs. Obama, who is Muslim and is the third wife of President Obama’s grandfather, is seen as important for the effort, according to organizers, who include business leaders, nongovernmental organizations, and interfaith groups. Mrs. Obama is regarded as a minor celebrity in her home district for her relationship to the American president and for her charity work: a foundation to help children orphaned by AIDS has been started in her name.

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