Secretary Clinton visiting South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya (including TFG meetings) on six nation Africa mission

Here is the official State Department language describing the diplomacy:

Secretary Clinton travels to South Sudan where she meets with President Kiir to reaffirm U.S. support and to encourage progress in negotiations with Sudan to reach agreement on issues related to security, oil and citizenship.

In Uganda, the Secretary meets with President Museveni to encourage strengthening of democratic institutions and human rights, while also reinforcing Uganda as a key U.S. partner in promoting regional security, particularly in regard to Somalia and in regional efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army. She will also highlight U.S. support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Secretary will then travel to Kenya where she plans to meet President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga, and other government officials to emphasize her support for transparent, credible, nonviolent national elections in 2013. To underscore U.S. support for completing the political transition in Somalia by August 20th, Secretary Clinton will also meet with President Sheikh Sharif and other signatories to the Roadmap to End the Transition.

 

 

U.S. and other Western donors support review of election irregularities in DRC–offer technical assistance

The U.S. appears to have paid attention and avoided the pitfall of glossing over the questions about the election.

BBC reports on remarks by the U.S. Ambassador:

But the results’ credibility has been criticised by the EU, the Carter Center and other election monitors.

The US ambassador to the country said there had been several “irregularities”.

“The United States believes that the management and technical execution of these elections were seriously flawed,” Ambassador James Entwistle said in a statement to Reuters news agency.

“[They] lacked transparency and did not measure up to the positive democratic gains we have seen in recent African elections,” he said.

Mr Entwistle said that the US and other Western donors were offering technical assistance to the Congolese to review irregularities identified by observer missions, an offer which has already been welcomed by the country’s prime minister, he said.

The country’s Supreme Court must decide by 17 December whether or not to validate provisional results.

.  .  .  .

And the VOA reports on official comments from the State Department in Washington:

In a statement Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. assessment is based on reports from observation teams fielded by the U.S. and other embassies, as well as by independent election monitoring groups.

Nuland said it was not clear, however, whether the irregularities and lack of transparency were enough to change the outcome of the election.

She calls on Congolese authorities to conduct a “rapid technical review” of the electoral process which she says will help determine whether the irregularities resulted from poor organization or outright fraud. She said the U.S. is ready to give its “technical assistance,” for the review.

U.S. Drones and TFG Join in Kenyan Offensive; Embassy Warns Americans in Kenya

From the Daily Nation:

Al Shabaab militants were on the back foot on Saturday evening as they faced heavy bombardment from multiple fronts from a combined force of Kenyan troops, US drones, African Union peacekeepers and Transitional Federal Government fighters.

Reports from the battlefront indicated that Kenyan troops were advancing towards four al Shabaab-controlled towns as they launched a final push to capture the Kismayu port and Afmadow in Central Jubaland.

There was progress on the diplomatic front, too, when the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) member states endorsed the military offensive against the militants during a special conference held in Addis Abba Ethiopia on Friday.

The Igad Council of Ministers urged the United Nations Security Council to impose a blockade on Kismayu, a move which will effectively cut off billions of shillings collected by the militants to fund their insurgency.

A statement from the military said Kenyan security forces were advancing towards Burgavo town in southern Somalia after capturing Oddo on Friday. (READ: Kenya targets al Shabaab’s lifeline)

Another group was marching towards the town of Badade from the direction of Kolbio which they conquered on Friday. The troops had earlier bombed areas around Munarani near Oddo from the air, flattening an al Shabaab command centre.

“US Warns of Imminent Threat in Kenya” from Reuters in The Standard, indicates that the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi Saturday issued a warning with the usual language regarding risk to Americans in Kenya from reprisal attacks on prominent facilities or places known for concentration of Westerners, and indicated that official American travel to Kenya would be curtailed.

“Partnerdship”

Who says the State Department doesn’t have a sense of humor?

INSIDE THE BELTWAY

Open Government Partnerdship

WASHINGTON, DC, July 12 – The U.S. hosted the first high-level meeting of The Open Government Partnership (OGP), a new international initiative aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation and fight corruption. The OGP will also strive to harness new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable. A multi-stakeholder International Steering Committee for the OGP, co-chaired by the United States and Brazil, is comprised of government and civil society groups, representing countries from around the world, including Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. “…There is an undeniable connection between how a government operates and whether its people flourish,” Secretary Clinton said in remarks during the high-level meeting. “When a government invites its people to participate, when it is open as to how it makes decisions and allocates resources, when it administers justice equally and transparently, and when it takes a firm stance against corruption of all kinds, that government is, in the modern world, far more likely to succeed in designing and implementing effective policies and services. It is also more likely to harness the talents of its own people and to benefit from their ideas and experiences, and it is also more likely to succeed investing its resources where they are most likely to have the best return.”   Full Text» The Open Government Partnership»Conversations With America: Open Government Partnership»Spurring International Momentum for Open Government»OpenGovPartnership.org»

From the Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Public Liaison: Public Liaison, Intergovernmental Affairs and Regional Media Outreach, E-news, volume 5 – 2011, Issue 25, July 26, 2011

US offering reassurance of support for ICC process on Kenya

Sunday Nation:  “Envoy: US will veto deferral of Kenyan ICC case:

The Obama administration will block any attempts to halt trials of post-election violence masterminds at The Hague, a decision which means government efforts to get the process deferred at the UN are almost certainly doomed to failure.

Outgoing US ambassador Michael Ranneberger told the Sunday Nation Washington would not back any delay of ICC action.

“The American position is that we want the ICC process to proceed expeditiously. We do not want to see the process delayed. We think that carrying through with the trials is absolutely crucial to fighting impunity and to ensuring accountability.”

The US holds veto power in the Security Council and a rejection of the petition by any one of the five permanent members of the Council means the appeal would stand defeated. Highly placed diplomatic sources also indicated that Britain and France were unlikely to support the Kenya bid for deferral.

Mr Ranneberger stopped short of stating that the US would apply its veto power when the deferral request comes up at the UN. But he said the Obama administration wanted The Hague process to continue without interruption.

“We never say in advance what our positions are to be (at the UN) so obviously I can’t say that we will veto. What I would say is that we do not see this effort to seek deferral as positive and we support a continuation of the process and we want to see the process move ahead expeditiously.”

Sunday Standard:  “Ranneberger explains why US backs The Hague process”:

Ranneberger: Let me be very clear. The US supports the ICC process and the reason is simple: There must be accountability for the post-election violence. Terrible crimes were committed, Kenyans deserve justice and it’s gone to the ICC and that process needs to be carried through. Our deputy secretary of state was very clear in his public statements that we support this process.

Q: Kenya is lobbying the permanent members of the UN Security Council, if that is put to the vote, what will be US’s likely position?

A: Nobody in the Security Council ever announces the answer hypothetically. The ICC process is vital to countering impunity and to ensure that type of violence never happens again. One of the biggest problems in Kenya and one of the things that have held this country back for so many years is the culture of impunity. And so these issues simply must be addressed.

Obama and “the ideals that still light the world” and that “we will not give up for expedience’s sake”

In writing here about the situation in Eygpt and U.S. support for democracy, I referred to remembering what the President had said about his priorities as our leader and holding him accountable to that.  To that end I am quoting here the Inauguration Day post from two years ago that was part of wrapping up a personal web “travel log” that my wife and I did to keep in touch with friends and family while we were in Nairobi:

January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day from Mississippi!

Beautiful cool, clear winter day here. Big moment for Kenyans. The news from Kenya is especially troubling right now (but do not hesitate to travel there if you are able–I certainly want to get back for a visit at the first available opportunity).

The magnitude of the food crisis has reached the point that the Gov’t (even) has declared a “national emergency” reflecting perhaps 10M people short of food. Several big corruption situations involving maize, petrol and other vital needs have just now come to light, while a newspaper reports that witnesses who provided confidential evidence to a committee appointed to investigate the post-election violence have been identifiable through the reports produced, are now under death threat and in many cases in hiding, having been provided no protection by the government. Thus, they are unlikely to be available to testify in the event that the prosecution tribunal to be established actually comes to fruition. SO, not much new–just a lot MORE of the same type of news.

At the same time, these things are not inevitable and can be changed to some substantial degree.

For those of you who have contributed to help with the Upako Centre or other worthy projects in Kenya, this would be a great time to keep them in your prayers and offer any additional financial support you are able. Things have turned dramatically for most of us financially since the time we went to Kenya in the spring of 2007, but most of us still have much to be grateful for and lots more than what we really need when it comes down to it.
____________________________
From the President’s Inaugural Address this morning:

. . . .

Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.
So to all peoples and governments watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of all nations and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
. . . .

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. The world has changed, and we must change with it.

Reporting on Carson talk with African reporters on Wikileaks–”husbands talking about in-laws”

Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson spoke from Washington with reporters gathered at embassy locations in Africa. The Saturday Monitor reports from Kampala on the message on the leaks:

. . . .

“They are a snapshot in time but do not reflect the totality of the interests we have.” Wikileaks yesterday dumped more dossiers on African leaders on its website, indicating for instance that Mr Jerry Lanier, the US ambassador in Kampala, notified his superiors in Washington last October, a month after taking his posting here, that President Museveni has “autocratic tendencies”.

Asked during yesterday’s teleconference if he felt embarrassed by the disclosures, Ambassador Carson who spoke from Washington D.C., without offering direct apology described Uganda’s relations with his country as “deep and complex”.

He said: “It is a relationship which we value and we are working to strengthen. We will continue to carry on our relationship with Uganda in the manner which is designed to promote our mutual interest and advance our policy objectives.”

He, however, said the leaks were akin to a husband’s secret, uncharitable remarks about an in-law being made public.
Mr Lanier did not attend the teleconference held at the US Kampala Mission in Nsambya, a city suburb.

Ambassador Carson demanded Uganda holds a “free, fair and open” ballot next year on a level playing field.
“The period for stealing African elections is over. Theft of elections should not be part of the democratic (practice).

This should be a lesson to the whole of Africa,” he said, referring to the hung situation in Ivory Coast where both incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Allasane Ouattara claim to have won the presidential re-run.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Carson yesterday flagged strengthening democracy, supporting economic growth, addressing public health, conflict prevention and tackling transnational threats such as terrorism, human and drug-trafficking as priority areas of engagement with Africa.

* Another interesting link today: new discussion from CFR on “Smarter Measures in Fight Against Piracy”

Tanzania on the lookout for Wikileaker Assange, who has lived in Tanzania and Kenya

From the Citizen, “Tanzania’s connection in leaked US secrets”:

Dar es Salaam. The Australian man at the centre of the worldwide storm over leaked top secret United States’ diplomatic cables posted on the Internet has stayed in Tanzania in the past.Government authorities said yesterday that they were on the alert over an International Police (Interpol) arrest warrant issued against Mr Julian Assange, as his return to the country could not be ruled out. Mr Assange is the brains behind the whistle blowing website ‘WikiLeaks’, which has lately put the US in an awkward position by publishing top-secret information.
. . . .
The unfolding saga is being watched closely in Tanzania and Kenya, but with little information about the former having come out in the documents that detail what US diplomats felt or said about their hosts during the period when they compiled the information.

World leaders who have so far been exposed by WikiLeaks, include former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, the French leader, Mr Nicholas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Balusconi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

With the US’s image bloodied by the revelations, Mr Assange, who is now being viewed both as a hero and villain, has a formidable potential foe, and analysts said he could be looking for a hiding place.

According to his profile on the search engine, Wikipedia, the Australian computer expert developed a liking for and briefly lived in Tanzania and Kenya, and visited a few other countries. No further information was available on when he last visited Tanzania, where he stayed and what he did during his stay. He has, however, lived most of his time in the UK.

Mr Assange claims to have influenced the Kenyan presidential election of 2007, by exposing corruption at the highest levels. Three years ago, Wikileaks disclosed a report by the international risk assessment group Kroll, alleging massive corruption on the part of relatives and associates of former President Daniel arap Moi.
The government of President Mwai Kibaki had commissioned the Kroll analysis soon after it came to power following the 2002 elections. It was completed in 2004 and published by Wikileaks in 2007.
Wikileaks founder Assange subsequently claimed that the website’s action influenced the 2007 election results. He said in a commentary published last year that none of the politicians named in the Kroll report were re-elected.

Yesterday in Dar es Salaam, the deputy minister for Home Affairs, Mr Khamis Kagasheki, said: “We are part of the international community and once an alert is issued we must comply.”
He was alluding to the possibility of Tanzania arresting Mr Assange should he decide to return to the country the moment.

“I have been in touch with our Immigration people to inquire about this matter and they are alert just in case something like that happens. We will not want to be caught off guard,” said Mr Kagasheki, who served as a diplomat for a long time before venturing into politics.

Unlike the US embassy in Nairobi, which has issued an apology to the Kenya government after some of the leaked documents, which described the country as “a swamp of corruption”, its Dar es Salaam counterpart has been silent.

However, the Dar embassy was yesterday said to be preparing to host selected journalists in a telephone conference with top US State Department officials next week to discuss the saga. Tanzania will thus be among 20 other African countries to take part in the conference call.

Kenyatta reports frustration with US on aid, but new reports show more corruption problems

From an AP report today, in the Boston Globe:

Kenya’s deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, said he also would like to see more cooperation from the United States on stabilizing Somalia and fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Kenyatta said U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, had said that Kenya could expect more aid through an agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corp. after it pushed through a new constitution.

The constitution was signed in August, but Kenyatta says U.S. development agencies are insisting on evidence of progress in taming corruption.

Kenyatta asked, in his words, “Why do they keep changing the goal posts?”

At the same time, however, the Daily Nation ran a story headlined “Revealed: Fraud and waste of tax billions”:

The government lost billions of shillings from the tax kitty during the 2008/2009, according to the latest Controller and Auditor-General’s report.

Discipline was so poor that ministries spent fortunes and then pushed the bills to the following financial year in the so-called pending bills.

But the biggest scandal is in imprests where government officials are given money for travel, accommodation and other official expenses, which they fail to account for. In the period under review, public officials failed to provide proof of how they spent Sh3.4 billion in imprests.

Paid to fake IDPs

In some cases, the officers could not explain how they spent public money. Some of it was paid to fake internally displaced persons (IDPs) in apparent widespread fraud.

A total of Sh7 billion was poured into funny imprests or nobody can explain how the money was spent.

So prevalent is the imprest abuse and fraud that some of the civil servants have left the service holding the money, meaning that it will never be recovered. The auditor questions why officials were allowed to pile up unaccounted for imprests, even though there were rules on accounting for such funds.

I attended a discussion at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) back in the summer of 2009 with key Kenyan parliamentary leaders–this was the key theme then when I asked a panel what message they would have to Americans interested in being helpful to Kenya: more aid dollars, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation particularly. It seems to me that good governance and limiting corruption have always been understood to be key MCC criteria. Kenya has a lot going for it–a lot of advantages over other poor countries–so why the special pleading? As long as new scandals continue to accrue while the old ones fester unaddressed, it does not seem to me that Kenyan politicians are entitled to be frustrated with the US for not ramping up government-to-government aid expenditures.

Uganda, Iran and the Security-Democracy Trade Space?

Secretary of State Clinton noted this week to the African Chiefs of Mission the Africa Bureau’s efforts on wrangling votes for Iran sanctions:

The bureau was enormously helpful in rounding up votes for the sanctions resolution on Iran – Gabon, Nigeria, Uganda, thank you, because it wasn’t easy. I think I talked to President Museveni three times and Johnnie visited him several times. But – end result was we got strong African support for the international sanctions regime. We are building, and in some – many cases, rebuilding collaboration not only along bilateral lines, but multilateral alliances, most especially in our collaboration and engagement with the African Union, because it’s very important that we do more to build up the African Union and other regional entities like the East African Community, which has a real potential for being an engine of economic prosperity. [emphasis added]

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at African Chiefs of Mission Conference

Tensions continue building over Uganda’s February 2011 elections–see yesterday’s news about opposition plans for a parallel electronic vote count and the Ugandan government’s strident reaction.

Carl LeVan has an excellent discussion of "Democratization and Securitization in Uganda" that I would highly recommend.

The ruling NRM has cleverly adopted the Global War on Terrorism as a political resource. Even before the terrorist bombing in the capital in July 2010, the government began closing political space in the name of national security while it successfully obtained aid commitments from the United States to fight counter-insurgency wars, one of which is against the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the north.

. . . .

Looking beyond the Pentagon, Washington is clearly aware of Uganda’s governance drift. For example the US announced that will not renew 10 million dollars committed through Millennium Challenge Corporation to help Uganda move from “threshold” status to a full compact (ie, an agreement) for aid. USAID’s plans call for strengthening democratic institutions, enhancing political competition, and improving parliamentary capacity for oversight through partnerships with civil society. Unfortunately USAID faces an uphill battle, with no increases in the lines funding for either for civil society programs or for its good governance in Uganda, and cuts are planned for programs relating to “political competition and consensus building.” Even aid to fight transnational crime is slated for cuts.

In addition to all the regional security issues involving Somalia, Sudan, Congo and the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Iran sanctions issue adds another interesting twist. I noted back in May that Assistant Secretary Carson and AFRICOM Commander General Ward were seeking Museveni’s support on Iran sanctions during a visit to Kampala, as well as pushing for Museveni to relinquish unilateral control of the Electoral Commission. The U.S. succeeded in persuading Uganda to support sanctions, but did not secure action on the Electoral Commission. Both worthy goals, but is there a trade off?

It is also interesting to note a report that Uganda has now been working with Iran to create a joint bank as a mechanism to allow Uganda to obtain access to $46M in pledged Iranian credits that have impeded by the sanctions:

[A] memo prepared by the ministry for Parliament’s public accounts committee, in response to an audit query, said that sanctions had complicated the money transfer. "The ministry has followed up the implementation of this line of credit. However, it has faced challenges, especially following the imposition of sanctions on Iran," said the memo.

"In a bid to overcome the difficulty in transferring funds to and from Iran because of sanctions and to promote investment and trade, the two countries agreed on the establishment of a bank as a joint venture as the best way forward," it said.