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John Kerry pleased with Kenya's electoral reforms

Kerry said that the United States would provide $25 million this year to help prepare for the vote.

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta receives US Secretary of State, John Kerry on official state visit on 4 May 2015. Picture: Uhuru Kenyatta official Facebook page.

NAIROBI - US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he was pleased to see progress in reforming Kenya's electoral commission and urged that differences be resolved through peaceful means in the lead up to the 2017 elections.

"Let me just emphasise that holding a free and fair, peaceful credible election is a critical step in consolidating Kenya's democracy," he told a news conference.

Kerry said that the United States would provide $25 million this year to help prepare for the vote.

At the same time, Kerry called for immediate steps to give "momentum" to the planned deployment of extra UN troops to South Sudan and told the country's leaders to adhere in "word and deed" to a peace deal reached last year.

"We need to move forward with the deployment of a regional protection force, authorised by the UN Security Council, in order to be part of the UN peace keeping mission in that country," he told a news conference in Nairobi after talks with foreign ministers from Kenya and other regional states.

South Sudan's government has said it is still considering a response to the UN decision to send 4,000 extra troops to the country after violence flared in the capital in July.

Kenya's foreign minister also said on Monday she wanted the mission to be deployed "sooner rather than later", but said that its deployment could be gradual.