Kenya: 40% Done?

Approaching Jamhuri Day, a year after the protests and arrests over the Media Bill at the 2008 celebration, the “Government of National Unity” has now expended 40 percent of the potential time remaining before the end of the second Kibaki term and the next election.

I always agreed with those who felt that a stop-gap coalition government was only appropriate as an interim measure, rather than for a full five year term as insisted on by the US government at the time, and I have remained skeptical about how much of substance can be agreed on by this sort of coalition that goes beyond things that are merely of common interest to all members of the current political class.

To start with, it took a full year to fire the old ECK.  In return for severance and impunity–and impunity of the worst kind in that there was no attempt to actually investigate the conduct of the commission and all were treated equally regardless of whether they tried in good faith to do their jobs or not.  They even managed to get away with declining to turn over key records to the Kreigler Commission.

Another year later, it certainly appears that the alleged legislative agreement to “implement” the Waki Report is no deeper than a press release.  While Annan has stayed engaged and Ocampo has stepped up, the reality remains that almost two years after the election what we have legally are only preliminary steps that  might lead to a full investigation that might later lead to legal charges that might later lead to actual trials–and only for the limited category of “crimes against humanity” as opposed to murder, rape, mayhem, bribery, extortion and all the other things that account for what happened with the election and its aftermath.  At this point, I am skeptical that the ICC process is all that likely to run its course before the 2012 campaign begins in earnest.

We have seen a successful rebellion against the president’s reappointment of the KACC head, but we haven’t seen new investigations keeping up with the new scandals, much less starting to work on the backlog.

On the positive front, we have the promulgation of the draft proposed constitution and the seizure of a very large cache of weapons.   We’ve seen draft constitutions in years past–maybe this will go better, and if so, it has the potential to direct some of the competition in 2012 in slightly different directions than what we have seen in other recent elections, which might be good.  Maybe we will have follow up investigations, arrests and prosecutions from the weapons seizure and there will be some accountability for the people involved–if not, at least we will have clarified how badly Kenya is in trouble in regard to the flow of weapons.

On balance, it seems to me that as we enter 2010 people who care about Kenya while remaining committed to democracy in the international community need some fresh thinking beyond the occasional jawboning and visa bans.   You can sometimes pressure people into doing specific things that you want them to do–you can’t pressure people into transforming their character and priorities.  And surely the US isn’t relying primarily on the ICC since we decline to join.

UPDATE–Some good news of sorts:  http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/820330/-/item/1/-/lmlu84/-/index.html“>The Daily Nation reports:

They said they are investigating the theory that a senior security officer and a foreign military base were connected to the illegal military equipment.

One of the leads being followed is that the officer, based at the AP Training College, facilitated the smuggling of bullets out of the institution.

Detectives said they suspected that the bulk of the bullets came from the AP armoury and the foreign military base in Northern Kenya.

Of course, we have a classic example of Kenyan reporting in an era of a partially free press:  important news, but “the foreign military base in Northern Kenya” . . . . hmm, which one?

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