Exploring U.S. influence in the Kenyan Elections
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