Thursday, January 31, 2008
Another Opposition MP Shot DeadHon David Kimutai the MP for Ainamoi constituency has been shot dead. His body is lying at the Moi Teaching and referral hospital in Eldoret.
It is not clear exactly what happened but Kenyans are in shock because the other slain MP Mugabe Were is yet to be buried. It is believed that he was shot outside an Eldoret hotel by a police officer.
And a planned negotiation has been postponed until friday. "We have postponed this afternoon's session and we will work all day tomorrow so that the leaders can attend to urgent matters and call their constituents," Annan told reporters.
Mr. Kofi Annan did not give any reasons for the postponement which came against the backdrop of the murder of Ainamoi Member of Parliament David Kimutai Too in Eldoret earlier today. But it is believed that the postponement is due to the MP's death. At the same time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an apparent change of heart, plans to visit Kenya tomorrow (Friday) to add his weight to the efforts of Mr. Annan toward ending the crisis.
Kibaki is presently in Addis Ababa attending the AU summit while Raila Odinga spoke at an ODM press conference in Nairobi (Pentagon House) where he termed the murder of the ODM MP "The second killing of an MP belonging to Orange Democratic Movement is part of a plot to reduce our majority in parliament".
Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner has announced that the assailant, a unnamed police constable, has been arrested in Turbo along the Malaba - Eldoret Road and is currently in police custody in Nakuru. The alleged murderer will appear in court tomorrow, the police commissioner promised.
The MP was traveling in this red Toyota saloon car, when he was shot several times while still seated on the driver's seat at point-blank range.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
A rigged election, ethnic violence, economic nosedive and now political assassinations. The crisis in Kenya has hit a bottomless pit. Worse, the politicians whose actions either directly or indirectly resulted to this and who thought they had the raw power to do whatever they please, now seem to have lost their forces and don't look capable of regaining it back.
It's been a month since the country exploded. When Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the December 27 election, most people, especially the youth felt cheated. Their only right to make their voices heard was stolen from them, expectations were overtaken by dispair, anger and rage settled in. And with media and mass rally banned, there was nowhere to vent and the end result has proven unpredictably ugly with kenyans who, once-lived together turning against each other. Contempt running high and spilling of each others blood no longer a taboo. Mr. Kibaki's stealing of the december'07 election have really worked wonders into the Kenya's psyche.
Why Annan's Crisis Talks is Doomed To Fail.
Kibaki, Annan and Raila seen here observing a minute of silence in honour of those Kenyans who have needlessly died since Kivuitu declared Kibaki as the winner of the presidential polls. The call to stand-up was aptly made by none other than Raila Odinga.
Kenyan problem will be half-solved the moment we treat each other as equals.
Even before the nominated teams begin negotiations, signs are already emerging that the Annan led mediation talks are doomed to fail. Yesterday, the talks were nearly sabotaged by Office of the President protocol officers who were insisting that Kibaki sits alone on the ‘high table’ because he is the ‘supreme presidential authority’. The ODM and Mr. Annan on the other hand, would hear none of it and in the end, Raila and Kibaki occupied the same ‘high table’ flanking Annan on both sides as equals. This was after Annan and the Speaker of the National Assembly as the convener of the meeting over-ruled the OP protocol officials. Such pettiness, emanating from the PNU side, clearly shows that they are treating their political adversaries as junior partners. Protocol officials who do not appreciate that it is the very presidency that is in contention nearly exchanged blows with ODM officials prior to Annan/Marende's intevention!
The PNU had already started showing bad faith by nominating ODM-K members who have unashamedly already endorsed the legitimacy of the presidency as their representatives in the mediation process. The ODM has been clear in its demands that it does not recognize the 'government' and will only negotiate with the other side as PNU.
Even worse, on the same day talks were due to begin, PNU government insiders were desperately trying to hide from accusations of complicity in the assassination of Embakasi ODM MP Mugabe Were. Similarly, Kenya police were groping around for excuses after tear-gassing innocent mourners at the late MP’s residence. The mourners included the widows and infant children!
Mediation talks part II.
Above- from left; Former UN secretary, Mr. Kofi Annan, Mr. Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Mr. Raila Odinga in a discussion after they launched talks on the debilitating political crisis. Mr. Annan urged the two men to do whatever it takes to restore calm. He had warned them earlier before the meeting that they should be prepared to make hard decisions for the sake of the the country. "Today we are gathered here to launch face-to-face negotiations that offer an opportunity for leaders to steer the country towards peace and prosperity. To the leaders, people need you and want you to take charge of affairs to stop the downward slide to chaos. You have to act with urgency," Annan said.
PNU side picked "Justice minister", Ms Martha Karua, "Education minister", Prof Sam Ongeri, and Mbooni MP, Mr Mutula Kilonzo.
Mr Gichira Kibara of the Justice ministry was named liaison officer, assisted by Dr Ludeki Chweya of the University of Nairobi.
And ODM named party Pentagon members, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr William Ruto, and career diplomat and Aldai MP, Dr Sally Kosgei, as its flagbearers.
The EU council made its stand in a unanimous statement, which pointed out that the political impasse and violence had greatly affected donors’ engagement with Kenya and the EU-Kenya relations.
"Until a legitimate solution is agreed, the EU and its member states cannot conduct business as usual with Kenya," said part of the statement by the 27 member countries.
At the African Union (AU) Heads of State meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the disputed presidential election was listed for discussion. ODM Secretary-General, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o is at the talks representing ODM. He called on the 53-member political body not to recognise Kibaki as President. "Foreign Affairs minister", Mr Moses Wetangula is representing the PANU side and has said that kibaki will attend the talks as the head of state.
Monday, January 28, 2008
He had barely served for 1 month in the new 10th parliament. He got shot three times in the head-(one to the eye through the back of the head, and two others in the torso). He died before reaching the hospital. He leaves two widows and four children. There are also some reports indicating that this has triggered a surge of violence in some parts of Nairobi as it has been perceived to be politically motivated. His guard said unknown assailants trailed him to his gate opened fire and shot him at a point blank range before casually walking away without taking anything.It is also said that ODM members are holding a meeting at Orange House, not far from the crime scene and will issue a statement.
THE BURNING OF FELLOW COUNTRYMEN,WOMEN AND CHILDREN! IS THIS WHAT HE WANTED?
Sunday, January 27, 2008
As Annan's team get their documents and modalities together, A top officer in the team is said to have said that a number of issues had been presented for consideration, among them the issue of leadership in the country.
Kibaki and his reconciliation team led by Kalonzo Musyoka are understood to have, among others, stated that ODM ought to recognise that "the Head of State was the duly elected President and that a legitimately constituted Government was in place". They also want ODM leaders, who they accuse of being behind the violence, to publicly condemn the killings and urge their supporters to end the chaos.
The Kibaki team further questioned the failure by their rivals to move to court to challenge the President’s re-election and has proposed to the mediators that only the courts of law can declare that the President was in office illegitimately. In addition, they have ruled out a power-sharing deal and a rerun of the Presidential elections.
ODM have demanded that Kibaki accept that he lost to Raila in the elections.
Once that is out of the way, they have proposed that President Kibaki resigns to pave way for a rerun of the presidential elections.
Their last option involves an interim government where they would share power in line with a formula to be determined by each party’s strength in Parliament as they await for fresh elections.
However, Mr Mudavadi said that ODM was ready to make hard decisions that would end the violence that he said has now assumed new dimensions. “We have stated that we are committed to finding a peaceful solution, which means that we are prepared to make hard decisions,” he said.
ODM also demanded that ODM- Kenya, whose leader is the Mr. kalonzo musyoka, be excluded from the talks since the crisis mediation is about the Dec.2007 election outcome.
ODM secretary-general Anyang’ Nyong’o stated that the negotiations are between PNU and ODM only. “We are negotiating with PNU whose leader is Mwai Kibaki. Kalonzo Musyoka is the head of ODM-K and whatever arrangements he has with PNU, are his own. The election crisis is between ODM and PNU,” he said.
He said ODM want Mr Kibaki to ensure that Mr Musyoka does not get close to the negotiations table with ODM because he has no stake in the dispute.
“Anybody naming a coalition team must confine it to the two parties. We want to negotiate with the principals and not surrogates. Kalonzo must realise that,” he further said.
Mr. musyoka heads the reconciliation team appointed by Mr. kibaki and co. that includes Cabinet ministers Martha Karua, George Saitoti, Moses Wetangula, Samuel Poghisio, Ali Chirau Mwakwere, Attorney General Amos Wako and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo.
After South Rift, these guys say they are 'itching' to overrun Nairobi. It is a scary prospect because they give notice of attack for women and children to be evacuated. Unlike their uniformed Kenyan counterparts, they are not interested in gang rape or petty thuggery.
Not surprised? What was thought to be a tribal clashes is now evolving into an armed guerrilla warfare? I hope not. But, then again you never know.
The rumour mills also has it that, ODM supporters in Kisumu have officially petitioned ODM Raila Odinga to supply them with firearms. So has the one's in Kibera, Mathare, e.t.c... who have even taken over the collection of taxes on behalf of their ODM government in their respective areas. They say "Kibaki ni rais wenyu huko Nyeri". In Kibera, Raila is the recognized president. It is believed the same applies to SIX other regions in Kenya.
Mayhem in Nakuru continues as a Catholic church-holy cross in the outskirts of the town burned down and people literary walking with crude weapons. Vigilantes have barricaded the Nairobi-Nakuru highway near Naivasha. Police is said to have been telling motorists to turn back. Mungiki group arrested on a lorry in the Nakuru-Nairobi road and a 7-6 curfew still being reinforced. There are more Kikuyu exodus to the ASK Nakuru showground.
The Nakuru showground fence also burned down in the morning during the week by members of the Kalenjins, Luos and Luhyas militia combined, demanding that the Kikuyus vacate the town.
More bloodshed expected to continue as lorry full of vigilantes have arrived from Western part of the country with bows and arrows ready to go. I hope this is not true. It could be really sad if it is.
Therefore my countrymen and women, with live broadcast and political rally bans, the best PNU can do. They have virtually invited unto themselves a monster they will regret ever getting entangled with.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Senator Barack Obama won a commanding victory over Senator Hillary Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary on Saturday, drawing a wide majority of African-American support and one-quarter of white voters in a contest that sets the stage for a multi state fight for the party's presidential nomination. Obama had about 54%, Mrs. Clinton, 27% and Mr. Edwards, 19%.
How they faired among s.c. voters
In a speech in Independence, Mo., former President Bill Clinton congratulated Obama and said he looked forward to the Feb. 5 contests.
In a bitter campaign infused with discussions of race, Mr. Obama's convincing victory puts him on equal footing with Mrs. Clinton -having two wins each in early-voting states and also gives him a fresh momentum as the contest quickly proceeds into a nationwide battle over the next 10 days.
Every crisis creates a hero. And, almost always, he elbows his way into history from an unexpected direction. A junior military officer called Napoleon emerged from the backwaters of Europe to spellbind that continent for decades.
My hero is not likely to stun Kenya. But he is in some ways reminiscent of the Corsican midget. A junior police officer produced a method of handling the mob that went completely against the grain and shattered my stereotypes about the police.
The footage remains indelible in the mind. With a handful of uniformed constables, he managed – I don’t know how – to force a large group of Lumpenproletarians in Nairobi’s Eastlands to listen keenly to him.
Said he: “Listen, my brothers and sisters. This is our country. We have built it together for many arduous years. What can we possibly gain by destroying it with the same single ‘stroke of havoc’ with which uncaring people once ‘unselved’ the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “aspens dear’?”
The words are mine. But the message was the policemen’s. I chortled at the idea that lyrical poetry had become the mode of tuition at the Kiganjo police training school. For you do not expect such social awareness – such logic – from a policeman.
From a “cop”, you do not expect any kind of reasoning with suspects.
How do we explain his reflexive thought, his concern for social -- not to mention environmental -- conservation and sustainability?
For whenever a police officer comes upon any mere suspicion of felony, we have come to expect only the bludgeon, teargas and bullets.
And it showed that the mob is not always completely deaf to reasoned appeals. As soon as my hero finished his words, I saw the crowd balk and turn back. I saw a number throw away their “crude weapons” – their faces the personification of Prof Clement Oniang’o in front of his philosophy class.
For this was a new philosophy of policing which not only policemen, but all of us in authority must emulate. Which provincial administrator, headmaster or parent is not in the habit of rushing to a deadly punitive instrument at the expense of didactics?
This was where the political leaders themselves let the nation down. Of course, they could not have predicted what went on at the KICC on the night of December 27-28. Therefore, riots and destruction may not have crossed their minds in advance.
The story that some of the murders and arson had been planned is just that – a story. I continue to think that the upheavals were entirely spontaneous. However, if the leaders had made their appeals as soon as the news reached them, much of the tragedy would have been averted.
Even when they finally made the appeal, it left a great deal to be desired. For, as I say, appeals which are not didactical are almost always worthless.
An appeal must be explanatory. It must teach Kenyans why it is useless and dangerous to kill one another for the sake of parochial politicians.
The reason we kill one another as tribes at critical political moments is that none of our institutions of governance and moral upbringing has done anything serious to demystify and demonise the tribe as a vehicle of politics.
We usually lay the blame on the Government, the Church and the university.
We should. But, in my opinion, the living room is the chief culprit.
It is there that we introduce our children to some of the most grotesque tribal stereotypes. As they say, prevention is cheaper than cure.
The Government, the shrine and the classroom can only try to cure the disease. They cannot prevent tribalism.
By the time a patient reaches an administrative, religious or educational doctor, the disease may already have embedded itself too deeply in the mind to be cured. But if we had applied the methods of prevention, this curative expense would have become completely unnecessary..
All the manifestations of chauvinism which often make the human habitat so nasty to live in -- racism, sectarianism, sexism, fascism, tribalism – can be prevented at the level of the parent.
It is parents who feed their children’s minds with so much drivel about how “different” and how “evil” the others are.
Parents are squarely to blame for the tragic fact that Kenya’s multi-politics will always generate into tribal war-formations. I am not surprised that, when I warned about it in 1991, people who condemned me most vehemently are today’s chief perpetrators.
As tribes, e.t.c, we gain nothing -- but merely play into the hands of greedy politicians – whenever we pursue one another like cheetahs after gazelles.
A junior policeman has shown us that we can solve our differences just by listening to one another. That is what I call heroism.
Category 1) Spokespeople for this first group tend to argue that whatever the difficulties and problems thrown up by the disputed election, reality dictates that compromises that favor the status quo be made, because therein lies the route to normalcy. The ‘normal’ in this view is of far greater desirability than the more just outcome from a potentially combustible present, which has many unknown variables in play. This view intend not to pay a closer look at the root course of the crisis but strives to wish it a way and "move on."
A twisted version of this view was on display in a post by a Njoroge Wachai, on a Washington Post blog. He grandly concluded that Kenyans should not be too peeved or belligerent about rigging (fixing) of an election as kibaki and co has done. Since it had happened before and it is bound to happen again, Why become overplayed over something as everyday as a rigged/fixed election?
But as with any kind of this status quo argument, Mr. Wachai quickly faces serious difficulties as soon as he gets to a point where moral judgments are required. He, for instance, could not hold back his moral contempt at the wanton destruction of life and property in certain parts of the country. He calls the actions morally indefensible, which they are, and its perpetrators — hoodlums, an epithet he carefully avoided throwing at other agents of violence in the situation. And then he quickly lapsed in amorality by minimizing the significance of harm done to the body politic by election rigging.
Novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o has fallen in the same trap. In his writeup on the BBC website, he called for international investigation into the mayhem in parts of Rift Valley. He admonished Kenyans for obsessing about electoral outcomes at the expense of upholding human rights. To him, the two should be de-linked and weighted differently, a suspiciously partisan position in the eyes of some.
Some local writers also belong to this category 1 group. They scan statements by international players for snippets that seem to support the status quo. They read statements calling for resolution of the problem through democratic and legal means as excluding demonstration and direct actions as if such activities cannot be democratic and legal. They thinly disguise their support for the status quo, but again, they are quick to point out alleged moral lapses on the other side.
For them, the church burning incident in Eldoret has become a cause celebre that blights out any other concerns. Visits by foreign dignitaries to the infamous site are construed as an endorsement of their world view that a great wrong above all wrongs was committed.
The category 2) Spokespeople for this second group , dominant views on many Kenya related websites and discussion fora, is adamant about the necessity to face the issues squarely. They are not willing to minimize great injustice they see being perpetrated on Kenyans, let alone, let go for the sake of placidity. They quote- equality,justice, peace, integrity, honor and fairness for all. And they are pushing their views to anyone who will listen. So far, they have dominated the debate, especially among the online community. Without ceding the high moral ground, they have condemned the burning of the church in Eldoret but they have also steered the discussion towards the use of live bullets and the consequent killing of protesters in some towns in the country( read kisumu and the slums in major and cities and towns).
Pictures of bodies in morgues are circulating on the Internet. The second group too is calling for international investigation into the killings. They have vowed not to let up and as far as they are concerned, the country they loved died after December 27.
They use code words, such as election theft, instead of rigging to suggest a deeper character flaw among supporters of the status quo. They blame this latter group for subscribing to impunity and arrogance, the culture where ‘anything goes philosophy’- suggesting as the root cause of the country’s ills.
This starkly contrasting reading of the same set of facts suggests that the rift in the country is more fundamental than we are wiling admit. Some have even suggested that in the light of such differences, pious calls for reconciliation are sidestepping the issue. They say there is such a thing as irreconcilable differences, which usually leads to parting of ways in relationships.
Friday, January 25, 2008
curfew imposed in Nakuru (rift valley)
Rift Valley’s capital was put on 7pm-6am curfew. Military officers in fatigues, and armed to the teeth, were brought out of the barracks to enforce law and order. As about 5,000 people were displaced in Nakuru and adjoining areas. Up to 32 people have been killed in the last 48 hours.
Rift Valley PC Hassan Noor Hassan said the restriction of movements of persons would continue until calm returns.
"Restriction of movements of persons in Nakuru town and its environs has been imposed and will take effect from 7pm to 6am," said the PC, in a statement issued by Rift Valley Deputy Provincial Information officer Mr Wafula Wasula.
He said the ban on night movements would be enforced in Kaptembwa, Githima, Shaburb, Ronda, and Pondamali estates and surrounding areas.
The PC warned residents against violating the ban, saying those found loitering would be arrested. word is going around that, the situation on the ground remain very fluid and words- "as your duly elected president" by kibaki during their press conference may have exacerbated new clashes.
Who is fooling Who between kibaki and Raila?
Mwai Kibaki (center) shakes hands with Raila Odinga as former UN secretary general Kofi Annan looks on.
Gituku countered that the opposition leaders' response "makes total nonsense of their call for peace. It is juvenile for them to renege on something they just committed themselves to in front of the whole world."Said he. I cannot believe these clowns for a second because they will achieve nothing if they still hold their prior positions going to the table. The parties involved should put all options on the table and honestly find a fair outcome to save the country. Kibaki cannot expect to call himself duly elected while the election itself is still in doubt. They should go to the table with open mind and ready to find a compromise...a fair solution. Where are his proposal that he is going to the table with? On ODM side, Ruto said they had three options...
“We have presented three scenarios actually. One is that Mwai Kibaki lost the election and every indication supports that particular position. And therefore, if Mwai Kibaki was a reasonable person, he should have packed his bags and gone home and Raila Odinga should have been sworn in as president. Position number two, if Mwai Kibaki is in doubt that he did not lose the election we have invited him for a re-run. And now that he has Kalonzo Musyoka on his side who was candidate number three, he shouldn’t have a problem winning, if at all he won the last election. Lastly, we have told him we are prepared to sit on equal terms and negotiate how we are going to look at the options available to us. And see who would run the government because we believe in ODM we have the numbers in parliament to run government,” Ruto pointed out.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Mr Kibaki, I indict you.
You stole the election that I stood for six hours to participate in. By your actions, my life irrevocably changed. History will now forget the great achievement and legacy that you were poised to make and it shall remember that for your self-righteousness, people lost lives, property, and most of all, hope. On the blood of my people, I indict you.
Mr Odinga, my chosen president, on the blood and tears of my people, I indict you.
Because of your bitterness, justified though it is, my life irrevocably changes. My greatest achievements, my family, died in your name. My son, my heir, named after my great ancestors, went up in smoke before he could say my name, or his great name. Koitalet.
My twin daughters, Wanjiru and Sanaipei, were found by my burnt house in Eldoret, having bled out of their wounds. My wife was not spared from the death either. This happened in your name, Sir. Because you have to get justice. Because my wife was from the wrong community. Because you must get what is yours.
You will read this and feel nothing. You will rationalize it as accepted collateral damage. Some must die in the pursuit of justice, isn’t it?
Kenyans, on the blood of my children, I indict you all. You lost the ball. You forgot that our ethnicity is something we joke about, as we go about our business.
You forgot that we do not fight, we mediate. You forgot that we are a great people, built on the back of great people. You forgot that it’s just elections.
On the blood of my children, on the tears of my dead wife, on the tears of our mothers, on the tears in the sheets of those people who are sleeping in the rain, I indict you.
Part of the Kenya I want is a Kenya where politicians will
not run rough shod over the law & the will of the people to serve
their own ends. Part of the Kenya I want is a Kenya where my
constitutional RIGHT to elect my representatives in the Government is
not stolen away from me. Part of the Kenya I want is a Kenya where
there are consequences for one’s action and people are held
accountable for what they do.
It was my first time to vote too. In 1997 I was a bit too young, in
2002 I was out of the country so in 2007 I was all bright eyed and
bushy tailed and rearing to go. Without making a political statement,
I’ll say I did not vote for Kibaki. Part of my reason for not doing so
is that I do not feel he has delivered as much as he could have. And
back to the previous paragraph I believe that our leaders NEED TO BE
HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHEN THEY DO NOT DELIVER!!!
My intention as I cast the ballot was that if the next guy didn’t
deliver than he too would have to go. You see it at your place of work
- you’re given your targets. If you do not meet them, with great
aplomb, then it’s not very likely that the company will keep you on
for much longer. We accept this simple truth in our corporate lives,
why are we prepared to settle for less in our country???
I agree with you when you say we should not forget who we are. We are
KENYANS and God has blessed us with much. It is said that to whom much
is given, much shall be expected. Why then do we settle for
mediocrity? I feel that there is one group of people that is to blame
for the current state of things - they are called Politicians. We know
that our politicians (from both sides of the political divide) are
bunch of lying, cheating, back-stabbing, greedy
I’ll-sell-your-mother-for-a-vote b@stards. Here’s the thing though -
And there’s no escaping this one - WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for them!!!!
They lie to us, embezzle our hard earned and hard paid taxes and we
shrug our shoulders and move on? When are we going to wake up and
realize that THEY WORK FOR US!!!! NOT the other way round? Why don’t
we DEMAND more from them? If you had an employee working for you who
operates in the same way that they do, would sit back and let him
continue or would you fire his @ss?
So what am I saying? In my long winded, apologetically verbose way?
It’s simply this.
Yes, the violence needs to stop - we’re only hurting ourselves while
they are protected in their ivory towers (which we are paying for by
Yes, we need to pool together our resources (money, time, ideas) to
pick our beloved country up from the whole they have dug for us
Yes, we need to continue with our jobs so that the country doesn’t
grind to a halt (and so that we actually have those resources to help
our brethren in need)
As we do all this,
We need to make a stand for the Kenya that we love.
We need to ‘fight’ for our rights - and by fight I DO NOT mean physically.
We need to bring our politicians in line so that they can learn that
we, the people, are the ones who hold the power and they should work
to serve our interests rather than their own.
We need to understand that this country is a great nation with great
potential AND it will only achieve that potential WHEN we take the
steps to make it do so.
The responsibility is ours!!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
by guest, b real
The U.S. contribution to the crisis:
Seeing it as a key ally in the “war on terror,” the Bush Administration has built a close military relationship with the Kibaki government; The U.S. has played a central role in building up Kenya’s weaponry and internal security apparatus, now being deployed in the crisis. Current U.S.-Kenyan relations are a product of 24 years of U.S. support to the Daniel arap Moi dictatorship that jailed, exiled or disappeared those opposed to the regime. The legacy of these politics remains institutionalized within the political process itself and creates huge barriers to democratic freedom and political participation. Overall, the current turmoil in Kenya is the clear result of colonial rule, external intervention, and detrimental foreign aid policies.
-- Association of Concerned Africa Scholars,
Press Statement on the Crisis in Kenya, January 5, 2008
It was a quick mention that was almost swallowed in a larger, more pressing narrative, but -- for those who did pick up on it -- has since proved to be an omnious foreshadowing of how the elections have played out in Kenya over the past weeks. Last April, in an interview with the independent syndicated news program Democracy Now discussing the events taking place to Kenya's north in Somalia, of which the former nation was very much involved, Kenyan Daily Nation columnist Salim Lone stated that "one leading opposition ... candidate in Kenya, said that the US has promised to support the government in the elections at the end of this year in exchange for the terrible things it has been doing" as a favored partner nation in the so-called global war on terror (GWOT).
Considering the holiday wrath the U.S., along with its proxy partners, brought down upon the citizens of Somalia in December of 2006, ringing in a new year that saw thousands dead, one-and-a-half million displaced, and more than a year of continuing military occupation by a hostile neighbor, the citizens of Kenya, by and large, could regard themselves as lucky. That's small consolation though, for those suffering in Kenya. Conservative figures put the current deaths there between 600 to 700 people, with roughly 500,000 uprooted by violence throughout the country following the presidential coup by the incumbents.
While the role of the United States in destabilizing the Horn of Africa (HOA) has been documented widely over the last year, little has been written on its role in the 2007 presidential election controversy. It certainly merits closer scutiny and investigation.
A Regional Anchor for Maintaining Order
Interestingly enough, Kenya is not even in the HOA -- it's an East African nation -- though that doesn't stop the U.S., and especially the Department of Defense (DOD), from quite often grouping it as such.
In his December 7th remarks to the conference Working Toward A Lasting Peace in the Ogaden, the director of the Office for East Africa, Bureau of African Affairs, James Knight offered the following points on U.S. policy in the HOA specifically regarding Kenya:
Kenya’s Northeast Province is home to ethnic Somalis with ties to clans in Somalia. Kenya's Somali community is a magnet for Somali refugees fleeing violence in Somalia and Ethiopia's Ogaden. Kenya closed its border with Somalia in January, but more than 1,000 refugees still arrive each month. A significant number of Oromos reside in northern Kenya as well. Oromos are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, which further ties northern Kenya to Ethiopia.
Kenya’s 2002 elections were an important step on Kenya’s path to full democracy. This year's national elections on December 27 should consolidate those gains. The U.S. is providing elections training to civil society organizations, political parties, and youth and women candidates, as well as supporting the Electoral Commission of Kenya [to] ensure that these elections are smooth, free, fair, and transparent.
Viewing a stable Kenya as a frontline bulwark against the Somali communities, which are universally Muslim, the U.S. has made Kenya a key partner in the GWOT.
From a Washington Times article dated January 7, entitled Kenya 'critical' to U.S. military:
"For the eastern portion of Africa, Kenya is critical," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong, a former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations on the Horn of Africa.
"They are strategically located in the area bordering Somalia," he said. "They were critical for us in Somalia in the early 1990s. Without them, we could not have operated. They allowed us to use their bases while we were conducting operations in and out of Somalia, and they still allow us to use those bases today."
Not surprisingly the Washington Times article omits the role of Kenya in the current U.S. actions in Somalia, though plenty of other sources are available.
For instance, on Kenya's role in sealing off their borders to all Somali's fleeing the ruthless invasion (done in violation of all international laws), according to Thomas Barnett's largely unbalanced Esquire feature, The Americans Have Landed, from June:
When the invading Ethiopians quickly enjoyed unexpected success, Centcom's plan became elegantly simple: Let the blitzkrieging Ethiopian army drive the CIC, along with its foreign fighters and Al Qaeda operatives, south out of Mogadishu and toward the Kenyan border, where Kenyan troops would help trap them on the coast. "We begged the Kenyans to get to the border as fast as possible," the Centcom source says, "because the targets were so confused, they were running around like chickens with their heads cut off."
Once boxed in by the sea and the Kenyans, the killing zone was set and America's first AC-130 gunship went wheels-up on January 7 from that secret Ethiopian airstrip. After each strike, anybody left alive was to be wiped out by successive waves of Ethiopian commandos and Task Force 88, operating out of Manda Bay. The plan was to rinse and repeat "until no more bad guys," as one officer put it.
As Human Rights Watch, among many others, later drew attention to in a March 2007 press release People Fleeing Somalia War Secretly Detained:
(New York, March 30, 2007) - Kenya, Ethiopia, the United States and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia cooperated in a secret detention program for people who had fled the recent conflict in Somalia, Human Rights Watch said today.
In a March 22 letter to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch detailed the arbitrary detention, expulsion and apparent enforced disappearance of dozens of individuals who fled the fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and the joint forces of the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia from December 2006 through January 2007.
“Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone,” said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to ‘disappear,’ and US security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado.”
Human Rights Watch’s recent research in Kenya indicates that since late December 2006, Kenyan security forces arrested at least 150 individuals from some 18 different nationalities at the Liboi and Kiunga border crossing points with Somalia. The Kenyan authorities then transferred these individuals to Nairobi where they were detained incommunicado and without charge for weeks in violation of Kenyan law.
Human Rights Watch recognizes that Kenya may have valid security concerns regarding people seeking refuge within its borders. Nonetheless these concerns must be addressed through a fair process in accordance with international law, not arbitrarily at the expense of fundamental human rights.
US and other national intelligence services interrogated several foreign nationals in detention in Nairobi, who were denied access to legal counsel and their consular representatives. At least 85 people were then secretly deported from Kenya to Somalia in what appears to be a joint rendition operation of those individuals of interest to the Somali, Ethiopian, or US governments.
And quoting Salim Lone, who now serves as spokesperson for Kenya's opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), from that same Democracy Now interview:
... this whole enterprise-the kidnappings on Kenyan streets, the grabbing refugees coming across the border-has a “Made in America” stamp on it, because you’ve seen it all happen before. And these secret prisons, the US denies any responsibility in this whole operation. And yet, we know that CIA and FBI officials are in those prisons interviewing the inmates.
We also know, by the way, that many of the people who have disappeared are not in those secret prisons. Where are those people? Have they be killed? Are they being tortured somewhere else? This is, you know, utter lawlessness.
So Kenya has been intricately involved in the ongoing destabilization of the HOA, allowing external, rogue powers to operate freely inside its borders. ODM, in the runup to the December elections, was able to utilize much of the opposition to the Kenyan government's actions in uniting various factions on these issues. Several Muslim communities in Somalia, very well-aware of the context and victims of the GWOT, endorsed ODM's platform for change. Obviously, though, it was not in everyone's interest to see a popular regime change threaten existing relationships with the risk of instability - "stability" implying an established order & accountability.
The U.S. has a lot of interests on the line in Kenya, which is listed in the 2002 National Security Strategy (NSS), along with Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia, as one of four "anchors for regional engagement." According to a study, U.S. Arms Exports and Military Assistance in the “Global War on Terror, compiled by the Center for Defense Information at the World Security Institute last September:
Kenya is considered a vital U.S. ally in the war on terror and has supported U.S. counterterrorism efforts by sharing intelligence, providing overflight rights and granting access to airfields and bases. The State Department considers Kenya to be a “front-line state” in the war on terror and this counterterrorism cooperation has yielded an increase in U.S. military assistance for Kenya since Sept. 11, 2001.
In the five years after Sept. 11, Kenya received nearly eight times the amount of military assistance it received in the five years prior to Sept. 11.
In addition to the figures listed in that study, Daniel Volman, Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC, while pointing out that "the US is heavily invested in stability in Kenya", has summarized some of this assistance in his January 5 article, U.S. Military Activities in Kenya, posted on the website of the Association of Concerned African Scholars.
Indeed, Kenya is "a major African recipient of U.S. miltary assistance."
Democracy Promotion and the ECK
Returning to the remarks of James Knight outlining U.S. policy in the HOA, he mentioned that:
"The U.S. is providing elections training to civil society organizations, political parties, and youth and women candidates, as well as supporting the Electoral Commission of Kenya ensure that these elections are smooth, free, fair, and transparent."
This is almost exactly the same message delivered by Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs James Swan four months earlier to the 4th International Conference on Ethiopian Development Studies on August 4, 2007:
The U.S. is providing election-related training to civil society organizations, political parties, and youth and women candidates, as well as supporting the work of the Electoral Commission of Kenya to ensure that these elections are free, fair, and transparent.
From public records, it is clear that, overtly, the State Department works most closely with the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in thier "democracy promotion" programs throughout the world.
A RightWeb profile of IRI explains, its reach is vast:
The IRI is the indirect product of a democratic globalism effort spearheaded in the late 1970s by neoconservatives and their allies in the AFL-CIO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and in the two main U.S. political parties. This project, which aimed to create a quasi-governmental instrument for U.S. political aid that could replace the CIA's controversial efforts to do the same, came to fruition in 1982 when President Ronald Reagan proposed a new organization to promote free-market democracies around the world, the NED. In 1983 Congress approved the creation of NED, which was funded primarily through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and secondarily through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Designed as a bipartisan institution, NED channels U.S. government funding through four core grantees: IRI, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDIIA), Center for International Private Enterprise, and the Free Trade Union Institute-the AFL-CIO's international operations institute that is currently known as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity.
Like NED and the other core grantees, the early focus of IRI was Central America and the Caribbean-a region that in the 1980s was the cutting edge of the Reagan administration's revival of counterinsurgency and counter-revolutionary operations. After the Soviet bloc began to disintegrate in 1989, according to IRI's website, the institute "broadened its reach to support democracy around the globe." The IRI has channeled U.S. political aid to partners-which like itself are often creations of U.S. funding-in some 75 countries, and it currently has operations in 50 countries. Most recently, it has expanded its operations into Central Asia, having opened offices in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. In Latin America, IRI has offices in Guatemala, Peru, and Haiti. In Africa, IRI has offices in Kenya, Nigeria, and Angola. IRI's offices in Asia are found in Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, and Mongolia. In Central and Eastern Europe, IRI has offices in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey. There is also an IRI office in Moscow.
IRI's leadership spans the center right, far right, and neoconservative factions of the Republican Party.
Both USAID and IRI have been actively involved in preparations surrounding the 2007 Kenyan elections, however a general search does not uncover much information linking NED.
From a A Report to Members of the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate titled Nongovernmental Organizations and Democracy Promotion: "Giving Voice To The People"' from December 2006, the U.S. agencies are openly listed as:
U.S. Embassy: Ambassador Michael Ranneberger
Deputy Political Counselor Craig White
USAID Stephen Haykin, Mission Director
USAID Jaidev "Jay'' Singh, Sr. Regional Conflict, Democracy and Governance Advisor
Peter Meechem, Director, IRI
Sioghan Guiney, Resident Program Officer, IRI, Parliamentary Strengthening and Reform
Moses Owuor, IFES, Program Officer--Capacity building programs with the Electoral Commission
Fred Matiangi, Country Director, State University of New York, Parliamentary Strengthening and Reform
Democracy NGOs are prevalent and are not hampered significantly by government regulation or restrictions.
The majority of U.S.-funded democracy efforts are coordinated through the USAID office in Nairobi.
U.S. democracy promotion programs work to a great degree in building political party capacity.
An idea of the funding involved is available from USAID's Congressional Budget Justification FY07: Kenya [pdf]:
Program Title: Democracy and Governance
FY 2006 Program:
Promote and Support Credible Elections Processes ($448,200 DA; $2,425,000 ESF). USAID provides technical assistance, commodities, and training to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). USAID anticipates supporting domestic and international observations, including training for both party agents and domestic observers, allowing them to assess whether the presidential and parliamentary elections are non-violent, transparent, and competitive. USAID further anticipates monitoring media bias in the run up to the 2007 elections. Principal contractors and grantees: ECK, the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), local CSOs (primes).
FY 2007 Program:
Promote and Support Credible Elections Processes ($460,200 DA; $1,455,000 ESF). USAID will continue to support local election observers, political party agents, and strengthening the ECK. Principal contractors and grantees: Same as FY 2006.
The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) is another name that is closely associated with U.S. democracy promotion electioneering. The IFES profile at RightWeb is from 1989 but details its early rightwing & CIA connections. A Kenya project webpage on their site informs the reader that:
The communications network has assisted the Commission in its general operations and in results reporting. In May 2003, the ECK used the equipment successfully in the collation and transmission of results in three by-elections in the Naivasha, Wajir West and Yatta constituencies. The by-elections served as an opportunity for IFES and the ECK to improve the performance of the communication network used during the December 2002 presidential elections. The use of satellite phones improved communication between poll workers and the computerized tabulation of votes enabled election results to be announced the same day. Overall, the equipment has greatly improved communication and efficiency between the ECK headquarters and its district offices.
Current activities focus around the implementation of the ECK’s Strategic Plan and Organizational Development, computerization of the Commission’s operations, review of the Commission’s structure and policies, assistance with the polling station infrastructure study, and support to the improvement and implementation of the Communications Protocol.
IFES and IRI both began working in Kenya in 1992, the first year of multiparty elections, and appear to have been involved in some capacity in each 5-year election since then. In 2002, IRI was credited with accurately predicting the presidential elections results from polling "3,000 Kenyan registered voters in the eight provinces". (see IRI Poll Correctly Predicts New Kenyan President.) It was also the first year that IRI conducted exit polls in a presidential election.
On the U.S. role in nurturing the ECK, from USAID's webpage on the 2002 elections:
In 2000, the ECK was widely perceived as lacking credibility and independence and no bilateral donors were willing to take a risk and provide any substantial direct funding. However, the U.S. decided that this risk was worth taking and embarked on a substantial program that not only included technical assistance and commodities, but intensive diplomatic efforts to ensure that certain safeguards were in place to level the electoral playing field. Through the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), USAID began implementing this program in March 2001. One significant element was the design and provision of a communication system that enhanced the ECK’s ability to ensure public security and provide secure transit of ballots and electoral results. As the perception of the independence and credibility of the ECK increased, other bilateral donors became willing to provide some support, leveraging USAID’s funding.
Current partners, domestic and foreign, are listed on the ECK's Partner-Relationship web page:
Foreign Partners/International NGOs
ECK collaborates with various national and international organizations especially those that lay emphasis on matters of governance and democracy in her various activities such as voter education, training of election officials, funding of voter education programmes e.t.c. These organizations include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), USAID, IFES, the Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE), DFID, CIDA, National Democratic Institute (NDI), the European Union (EU), the Carter Centre, International Republican Institute (IRI), African Union (AU), and other Foreign based missions, and donor agencies in Kenya.
A controversy recently arose when it was revealed that IRI had conducted exit polls during the 2007 election which showed that Raila Odinga won the presidency by an 8 percent margin.
Kenyan president lost election, according to U.S. exit poll:
An exit poll carried out on behalf of a U.S. government-backed foundation indicates that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was defeated in last month's disputed election rather than being re-elected as he claims, according to officials with knowledge of the document.
The poll by the Washington-based International Republican Institute - which hasn't been publicly released - further undermines an election result that many international observers have described as flawed.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga led Kibaki by roughly 8 percentage points in the poll, which surveyed voters as they left polling places during the election Dec. 27, according to one senior Western official who's seen the data and requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. That's a sharp departure from the results that Kenyan election officials certified, which gave Kibaki a margin of 231,728 votes over Odinga, about 3 percentage points.
The head of the International Republican Institute - a nonpartisan democracy-building organization whose work in Kenya was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development - said the data weren't released because of concerns about their validity.
The institute contracted an experienced Kenyan polling firm, Strategic Public Relations and Research, which had done two previous national-opinion polls for the institute last year. But on election day the institute's staff found that pollsters weren't gathering information in some areas.
The senior Western official, who reviewed partial results, described them as credible. The survey included a sufficient sample of voters from around the country, and Odinga's lead was comfortably outside the expected margin of error for a poll of that size, the official said.
Strategic Public Relations & Research Limited is the same firm commissioned by IRI in 2002 when they took credit for successfully predicting that year's presidential elections by polling 3000 voters. The IRI issued a press release on January 15th stating that "For IRI to rush to release a poll that was incomplete and very likely inaccurate would have been irresponsible and dangerous given the situation in Kenya." What may have changed between 2002 and 2005 was not addressed.
At a minimum, the role of all of these organizations need to be included in any investigation of the "voting irregularities" in the 2007 presidential elections. Were the sponsored polls used at all in adjusting the outcome? Do they contain data that paints a picture no longer helpful to certain interests? Which was more rigged - the final totals or the entire system? And how do all of these pieces fit together? These questions, among many others, need to be raised and addressed.
"The US confidence in Kenya as a regional strategic partner has not been threatened by the crisis and will not be"
Finally, there are the machinations of the diplomatic front - the public face put on by state officials. By now everyone is familiar with the U.S. State Department's rush to congratulate Mr. Kibaki on Sunday after it looked like he was able to pull off the coup:
”We obviously congratulate the president on his election," department spokesman Rob McInturff told AFP.
"Again we would call on the people of Kenya to accept the results of the election and to move forward with the democratic process," he said.
-- AFP, US congratulates Kenyan president on re-election, December 30, 2007
"The United States congratulates the winners and is calling for calm, and for Kenyans to abide by the results declared by the election commission. We support the commission's decision."
-- Reuters, Kibaki wins Kenya's presidential election, December 30, 2008
This was followed by the about-face on Monday morning:
"We do have serious concerns, as I know others do, about irregularities in the vote count, and we think it's important that those concerns... be resolved through constitutional and legal means," department spokesperson Tom Casey said.
"I'm not offering congratulations to anybody, because we have serious concerns about the vote count," he added after another State Department spokesperson on Sunday had congratulated Kibaki.
"What's clear to us is that there are some real problems here and that those need to be resolved in the Kenyan system, in accordance with their constitution, in accordance with their legal system"
-- AFP, US withdraws congratulations, December 31, 2007
In these seemingly contradictory messages one can observe two themes that now, more than two weeks later, have become easily recognizable as orchestrated talking points -- moving on, and, in an incomplete interpretation of the legal standings on the matter, the election results have been announced, so the law says if you want to challenge them, take it to court.
Both of these fit into the U.S. efforts to prevent a recount or rerun.
As the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ratteberger told the audience at a CSIS forum [transcript and audio available] on January 16th, "our position so far is to say that Kibaki was named winner by the ECK regardless of how flawed the election was, and so he’s the president." It should be pointed out that when Kibaki was declared the winner and then immediately sworn in, there was a precedent for it -- two actually -- in 1992 and 1997, the last two terms of Daniel arap Moi's "re-election". As mentioned earlier, not only was 1992 the first year that multi party elections were held in Kenya, but it was the first year that both IRI and IFES became involved in that country. For obvious reasons, neither of these two items gets mentioned in the "free" press.
On the talking point that Kibaki was sworn in by the ECK and thus any challenges must go through the courts - it is patently false. As explained in an article on the Mars Group Kenya Blog:
On receiving [the counts] the ECK gives all parliamentary and presidential candidates 24 hours to lodge complaints, if any, including demanding a recount or re-tallying.
The ECK is obliged to, within 48 hours, allow the recount or re-tallying. All candidates and the ECK therefore have 72 hours to resolve any disputes. It is only after the period that the ECK can announce the winners of each of the 210 parliamentary seats and issue a certificate known as Form 17 to each elected MP and Form 18 to the elected president. The results are then gazetted.
With due respect to Mr Kivuitu, it was irregular, unlawful and void in law to announce the results on December 30 and swear in the President on the same day. The ECK boss announced the results when he did not have the original Forms 16, 16A and 17A from each constituency, refused to allow the 24-hour period for candidates to lodge complaints and declined to allow re-tallying. He told the world that his returning officers had gone underground, and that he did not have powers to order retallying.
On the day the results were being announced, Special Gazette Notice No. 12612 was issued declaring Mr Kibaki the president. Mr Kivuitu deliberately misled the world and subverted the law.
Section 5 of the Constitution states that the president shall be elected in accordance with the Constitution and the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act, Cap 7. Non-compliance with the mandatory provisions vitiates the process.
In law, the fundamental principle is that a void process does not confer legitimacy. A public officer acting in compliance with the law must comply with the substantive, formal and procedural conditions laid down and at all times act in good faith and for the public good.
The Law Society of Kenya, "the premier bar association and legal development agency in Kenya," is only one organization among many that makes up the coalition Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice which has just released documentation, titled Count Down to Deception: 30 Hours that Destroyed Kenya, detailing many of the issues which made the election results null and void:
We provide a table of these anomalies, malpractices and illegalities committed in at least 49 constituencies across the country. Instructively, in the constituencies these electoral offenses occurred, the presidential election results announced by the ECK do not tally with those released at the constituency tallying centers as reported on Kenya Television Network (KTN) and/or observed by the Kenyan Election Domestic Observers Forum (KEDOF).
Again, we reiterate that the electoral anomalies, malpractices and illegalities noted were sufficient to alter the outcomes of the Presidential election. To this extent, the counting and tallying process for the Presidential election cannot be called free and fair. And the incumbent cannot be said to be in office legitimately or legally. An independent investigation into this process is necessary to bring the country to closure on this issue. Such an investigation must be a priority for the mediation process.
However, the talking point about taking any complaints to court began almost immediately following the swearing in and consecutive ban on live media coverage in the country -- which just happend to cut off a live broadcast of an ODM press conference -- and continues to get parroted in certain circles. On January 15th, an article in the East African Standard, on the nonsense that the hardliner John Michuki spit out last week, couldn't help but stating the obvious:
Michuki’s tune fell in line with what appears to be a well-choreographed tune in Government that goes thus: "Kibaki won the elections fairly; any aggrieved party should go to court".
Others who have adopted this line in the past include Justice minister Ms Martha Karua and Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua, who went to the extent of saying Kufuor jetted in "to have tea" with his longtime friend, President Kibaki.
Of course, the list is longer than that. For instance, there's the Foreign Affairs Minister on the 14th -- "President Kibaki was voted for by Kenyans, declared a winner by a competent Electoral Commission, sworn in and has formed Government. Any challenge to that has to be made by a court of law. The claims are untenable and illegal" -- or, better still, in an article on January 8 from the same paper, on statements by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Jendayi Frazer during her extended stay in Nairobi:
Asked about the options during negotiations and whether a presidential run off was expected, Frazer responded that it was up to the two leaders to hammer out a compromise.
However, she noted that the law stipulated that once the ECK had announced results, any party contesting the outcome should seek remedy in the courts.
Further inquiry into where this talking point originating would be illuminating. However, the fact that the PNU and the US are using the very same language suggests more than just a harmonious coincidence.
Publicly, the U.S. has insisted that it is a neutral mediator in this crisis yet its positions show otherwise and, in fact, display solid backing for Kibaki.
Both are firmly against any recounting or re-running of the elections. In an interview with the Daily Nation that ran on the same day Ambassador Ranneberger told the CSIS forum that it is the U.S. position that Kibaki is legitimately the President, he also explained that "[t]he idea of a recount is not feasible because documents have gone missing or been altered. A fresh election is not feasible either. It’s not the best thing to put this country through this kind of trauma so soon again." At the CSIS event he opined: "Neither side has the money for it"
Rather than allowing a re-run, the U.S. agenda is to promote the idea of a power-sharing arrangement. A January 9 article in the East African Standard, Frazer opposes fresh polls, describes Asst. Secretary Frazer's press briefing immediately following her meeting with the Catholic Kisumu Archdiocese wherein the Archbishop advanced the position that "Kibaki has no authority to govern and he should immediately step aside for fresh presidential elections."
US Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Africa, Ms Jendayi Frazer, said she believes a re-run of the elections was not the way forward.
"I don’t support calls for a re-run of the elections as the way forward. It is not my responsibility to decide for Kenyans on the matter. It is up to political leaders," she said.
She said the way forward was for the politicians to accommodate each other in a power-sharing strategy.
She said the proposed power-sharing plan should also be constitutionalised.
On the very same day, another article ran with the headline, "We oppose poll re-run, says PNU"
The Party Of National Unity (PNU) is against a re-run of the disputed General Elections.
Finance Minister, Mr Amos Kimunya, said the PNU was against the use of the ballot box to sort out the political crisis.
"A re-run is not practical because it would not enable the country to achieve its social and economic designs," he said.
This view, however, appears to be in the minority. In the strongest international pressure yet, the European Parliament resolution of 17 January 2008 on Kenya declares the EU position as follows:
3. Regrets that, despite the broadly successful parliamentary elections, the results of the presidential elections cannot be considered credible owing to widespread reports of electoral irregularities;
4. Deplores the fact that Mwai Kibaki, appointed his cabinet unilaterally, which severely undermined mediation efforts;
5. Calls on Mwai Kibaki, to respect his country’s democratic commitments as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and to agree to an independent examination of the presidential vote; urges the Kenyan authorities, in addition, to facilitate such an investigation in order to redress the situation and make the perpetrators of the electoral irregularities accountable for their actions;
8. ... calls on the Commission to offer to the Kenyan authorities all necessary technical and financial assistance in the process of an independent examination of the presidential elections, as well as in the steps deemed necessary to redress the situation;
12. Calls for fresh presidential elections should it prove impossible to organise a credible and fair recount of the votes cast in the presidential election by an independent body;
This is similar to the ODM position, which has requested international assistance to obtain mediation that results in a coalition government for three months until the elections can be conducted again. The mass protests that took place last week were part of that effort, acknowledged by ODM Party Secretary-General, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o as reported by the East African Standard, "The aim of the rallies to is to make a point to the public and the world that the presidential vote was stolen and we are ready for a re-run."
The U.S. explanations for why a re-run is not possible do not hold water and therefore appear calculated to protect Kibaki and the PNU.
In an article, Kufuor’s whistle-stop diplomacy was only to pave way for Annan, in the East African on January 14, one can find more confirmation of this:
What is emerging ... is that the United States and European countries appear to be pulling in different directions in the conflict.
Washington’s overriding concern in Kenya is stability. Indeed, ODM stalwarts say US top diplomat Jendayi Frazer, who was last Friday still in the country, has been pushing them to accept Cabinet positions in Kibaki’s government and ignore the genesis of the conflict.
In contrast, the Europeans, through the European Union, are pushing for a re-tallying of the presidential vote and, finally, a re-run of the presidential election.
In Ambassador Ranneberger's remarks during last week's CSIS event, he quickly gave his take on both parties positions:
on Kibaki’s side, his people have told him, of course, that time is on their side, that if they simply proceed unilaterally, in essence, all this is going to go away; the country will calm down and they’ll muddle along. On Odinga’s side, he’s counting on international pressure and the threat to make the country ungovernable to force Kibaki to step down or make major concessions.
We told both of them that those kinds of assumptions are dead wrong. The country’s not just going to return to normal and on Odinga’s side we’ve told him that the international community is not going to ride to the rescue and at some point, you know, people will get tired of sort of mass action.
Realizing that it's going to be difficult to get Kibaki and Odinga to agree on a power-sharing structure -- as Ranneberger admits, "to be frank about it, I don’t think ... it’s inconceivable that [Odinga] would simply want to stay in the opposition and continue to make things difficult for the government" since he's been burned by Kibaki previously and has little to gain from any permanent power-sharing arrangement -- the Ambassador continued on:
So our efforts are sort of directed at trying to corral them or trap them, if you will, into a face-to-face meeting to launch a – (audio break) – and the idea would be that the process would be launched – that by getting a process launched you have to stop the immediate violence and then provide the space that’s needed to address these fundamental institutional issues which, of course, will take time.
Evidently, one of those schemes to "trap them" involved the World Bank and its Kenyan official Colin Bruce in behind-the-scenes attempts to get a power-sharing agreement signed during the visit from Ghana's John Kufuor. From the January 14 East African article cited earlier:
It was during discussion of the Harambee House meeting that the controversial agreement on power-sharing that eventually caused the talks to collapse came up.
The meeting agreed that the controversial document would form the basis of the truce and consequently the face-to-face meeting between Raila and Kibaki.
Where did this controversial document come from and did President Kibaki know about its contents? Did the president commit to implementing the controversial agreement at any point during the negotiations?
What we have been able to establish is that at the height of the ethnic violence that gripped Rift Valley Province, a group of Mombasa-based businessmen and allies of Pentagon member Musalia Mudavadi joined hands with World Bank country director Colin Bruce apparently to offer freelance secret mediation between Mwai Kibaki and Raila.
We have also confirmed from the diplomatic community that all major diplomatic missions in Nairobi were aware of the parallel mediation process that had begun long before Kufuor came into town.
One senior Western diplomat, speaking to The East African under conditions of anonymity, admitted having been shown the document by Mr Bruce as early as Saturday last week.
It has also emerged that the document was widely circulated to Western diplomatic missions.
Did Colin Bruce have the mandate from Kibaki to work on the agreement?
Who were the other shadowy characters working with the World Bank representative? Is it conceivable that a senior World Bank official should have involved himself in the negotiations so intimately without the knowledge of his hosts? These questions still lack answers.
Apparently, Colin Bruce intimated to many Western diplomats that everything was to be done secretly to prevent the hardliners in Kibaki’s Cabinet knowing what was going on.
From the Daily Nation interview with Ranneberger:
Q: One of the reasons leading to the meeting planned for last Thursday between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga being cancelled is said to have been President Kibaki’s refusal to sign the controversial agreement negotiated by representatives of both sides. You were listed alongside your British and French counterparts as witness to the agreement. What exactly was your role?
Ranneberger: We had no role whatsoever in negotiation of that document. I understand what happened is that representatives of PNU and ODM approached the World Bank and asked them to facilitate negotiation of a document that could set agenda for the way forward. That document was negotiated between PNU and ODM representatives.
They said they were in direct touch with President Kibaki and Mr Odinga. At a certain point, ODM asked President Kufuor to present to document to President Kibaki to confirm that he was in agreement with it. It was at that point that it became apparent that President Kibaki had never seen the document.
So I don’t know exactly what happened but there was a huge misunderstanding in regard to that document. We had indicated to President Kufuor that we were prepared to witness the signing of it if the two sides wanted us to. That is how our names appeared on the document.
And from Ranneberger's remarks at the CSIS forum on the 16th:
The U.S. has been very much at the center of trying to promote dialogue, both by supporting the African Union but also directly, of course. We are uniquely positioned, I think, with credibility on both sides.
[On ODM objections to a power-sharing structure]
I certainly don’t think he’s going to be signing any documents without an international witness but, you know, it’s absolutely true that the level of mistrust is tremendous. That’s where I think we, particularly the U.S., comes in, in indicating a willingness to witness. And we’ve sort of avoided the term guaranteed, but I think we’re willing to go pretty far to some sort of an agreement between them.
So that's where things stand now. The U.S. has sided with the PNU in rejecting calls for a recount -- which in all likelihood is no longer possible given the time elapsed since the election, the lax security measures that allowed the inflated counts, and the general mistrust of the ECK's impartiality -- and using its influence to prevent a re-run.
Kibaki so far remains an international pariah, having received official recognition from only a handful of governments (Uganda, Swaziland, Somalia and Morocco), after such a blatant auto-coup literally following in the footsteps of the corrupt and brutal regime of Moi. (The message that will be understood from this has yet to be determined. Autocrats like Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, and Meles Zenawi would probably rather not see a popular democracy movement succeed in Kenya and encourage similar ideas in their own nations.) Odinga, who was imprisoned and tortured under the Moi, knows all too well what is at stake. As do many other.
As the ACAS press release quoted at the outset of this report states:
The U.S. has played a central role in building up Kenya’s weaponry and internal security apparatus, now being deployed in the crisis. Current U.S.-Kenyan relations are a product of 24 years of U.S. support to the Daniel arap Moi dictatorship that jailed, exiled or disappeared those opposed to the regime.
During last week's mass protests, the world became increasingly aware of the brutality of that internal security apparatus as reports poured in of the regular police, the GSU, and paramilitaries, operating under an informal "shoot to kill" policy, firing live ammunition indiscriminately and killing scores of civilians, including those not even involved in demonstrations.
Under the larger context of the GWOT, Kenya is slipping into a national security state, which, from a historical perspective, fits in with the ideological rationale of the old cold warriors behind the U.S. institutions heavily involved in "democracy promotion" and electioneering in Kenya.
The current U.S. push for a "stable" Kenya involves (1) protecting the imperial presidency of Kibaki, first and foremost, and then (2) calling for internal reforms. Ranneberger described these reforms to the audience at CSIS -- "a package that needs to include a commitment to an agenda for institutional reform, meaning constitutional, electoral commission, land reform, the three key areas..."
In her thesis laid out in "Dictatorships and Double Standards", the neconservative academic Jeane Kirpatrick distinguished between left-wing and right-wing dictatorships, arguing that "right-wing 'authoritarian' governments are more amenable to democratic reform than left-wing 'totalitarian' states," thus providing the "intellectual" justification for continued U.S. support for authoritarian regimes, however brutal they may be. The idea, still accepted in the neoconservative worldview, is that their dictators are more open to external influence than the other guy's.
How seriously one wants to consider the notion that ODM represents a "left-wing" government, let alone one having totalitarian designs, is of lesser importance than the reality that it does pose a threat to "business as usual." ODM campaigned on the slogan of bringing change, accountability, and a more equitable distribution of the benefits that Kenya's economical advances have been reaping over the past years. It managed to unite many of the underrepresented and unrepresented populations of a very diverse nation. And therein lay the real threat - maintaining the established order of things. In terms of U.S. interests, which override all other considerations wherever the United States is involved, ODM represents instability.
The current Kenyan government and its foreign partners have much to answer for. Much blood has been shed needlessly. The chaos in the HOA has now spread into East Africa. Obscene amounts of money and efforts will be required just to provide a modicum of humanitarian assistance & subsistence for those displaced and affected by this latest, entirely avoidable, tragedy. Undelivered promises of "free and fair" elections are not to be taken lightly. Blame must be placed accordingly.
Perhaps more light will be shed on the Kenyan government's roles earlier last year in the secret detentions and other violations of international law and human rights. And perhaps, as more information comes out on the connections of the Kibaki regime in the U.S. GWOT, a fuller understanding and awareness of the U.S. role in the unfolding tragedies that have betrayed all meaningful definitions of the words democracy and sovereignty will develop and attempts at true accountability can begin.
But for the meantime, as Jendayi Frazer confidently announced to the press during her recent trip to Nairobi:
"The US confidence in Kenya as a regional strategic partner has not been threatened by the crisis and will not be.”
For a good background and insight link here
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
There is a great post by Anne Applebaum of Washington post. She is no kenyan but she have some facts.
Who Actually Owns Equity Bank?
By guest- Mark.Besides the fact that Transcentury holds a direct stake in Equity bank, it also holds a stake through Britak which in turn has a large shareholding of Equity Bank.
Recently, Transcentury also bought the maximum stake allowable for one shareholder of a bank in Kenya (24.9%) though their holding in Helios EB Partners. Helios Partners is a foreign incorporated company that recently got new investors in the form of Transcentury and more than half the money invested by Transcentury ($300M = Ksh 19.5B) came in to increase the capital of Equity Bank (This amount was approx Ksh 11B). The Finance Minster decided to look the other side as this transaction happened right under his nose. He even gave this group the exception from any scrutiny of who the shareholders are for 9 years.
Essentially, we will never know who the investors are for 9 years in this bank. Why would the government official make an unprecedented decision to exclude them from a regulation to protect consumers in such a sensitive sector? The reason could be to be to hide the fact that the ‘foreign investment' is actually local investors and the fact that the same local investors have violated the max. Shareholding rules for banks. Picture this…
• Maximum Shareholding allowable to a shareholder who is not an executive = 24.9%
• Equity bank holding through Britak = 10%
• Equity Bank holding as Transcentury directly = aprox 3+%
Clearly, Transcentury now holds more that 38% of Equity Bank!
Proof of this available on: http://www.transcentury.co.ke/transcentury/portfolio.asp
For the government officer involved… what was in it for him? For the government? Think of Equity bank chairman in London with PNU chaps openly campaigning for PNU and rubbishing ODM… do you start to get the answers?
Issue with Diversity at Equity Bank:
We have established that the majority shareholder is Transcentury, now other issue is almost all senior managers of the bank are from one community. Over 85% of the employees in the bank are from the same community. The converse is that more than 50% of the banks customers are drawn from all the ethnic communities of this country. How do you support a company that does not promote diversity? There are multitudes of private companies that do not promote diversity, but the duty for a listed company is to represent all Kenyans in its workforce and Equity is not exempted. If they exempt themselves, then we tell their customers so they can choose if that’s acceptable.
Most people defending Equity bank never fail to mention that it has helped the poor and I support that, but this particular business model targeting the millions at the bottom of the pyramid is no longer unique to Equity Bank. We have leading financial institutions like Barclays, KCB following suit and doing it well with their deep pockets. KCB as a local bank and deserves our support, Barclays too because in as much as it’s about capitalism for its shareholders, they promote diversity internally in their recruiting.
IPO (initial Public offer)
Please note that Equity bank is the only listed company that got listed on the NSE without selling any new shares, so it wasn’t an initial public offer per se but a listing. The difference is it retains the exact shareholding when on the NSE as before with no dilution at all. These and only these shareholders were able to benefit with this listing, and later, the secondary buyers and sellers on the NSE. The best way to say this is they got credibility out of the listing without offering anything to the public.
Tell tale signs of the success of the Boycott:
• A day after word spread around on this, I had a chat with some staff members and one mentioned that they stopped 2 days ago paying cash against uncleared cheques even for a fee.
• Share starts the downward trend and will be a good sign that ODMs strategy is working.
• Few to no deposits in Equities branches in Western and Rift Valley. The first sign of a run on the bank and I am sure the CBK will come and rescue them by closing these branches due to the ethnic connections they have.
• Equity bank website www.equitybank.co.ke is now down. Reason? You and I can speculate that they have something to hide… I was looking for the IPO briefing document that listed the largest shareholders, but doubt you will find it again. I had to revert to an earlier download.
Eventually really, if they can balance the staff and hiring to represent the face of Kenya without bias, and I am sure they can find skilled talent from all ethnic communities, though they choose otherwise, then the boycott should be re-considered.
Another suggestion on the boycott campaign is to brand it a “Kenyan Company Diversity” campaign to show that this is not about one community but ensuring a better Kenya for all)
PS: On checking the bank website seems to be up as of (23/01/2008) and i got some information on board of directors.
|Board of Directors|
The Board comprises highly competent directors with a diverse set of skills and experience drawn from many business and economic sectors. Membership to the Equity Bank s Board is not based on share ownership but on the skills, experience, commitment and value that board members have to offer to steer forward the vision and mission of the bank.
The Bank has 7 Board Committees that guide and govern management of the bank. These include the Audit Committee, and the Committee on Nomination, Appointment and Remuneration of Directors. All board members are vetted before appointment. Board appointments take into account professional qualifications, integrity and track record.