I personally don’t use much Murdoch-controlled media, in particular the Fox entities (another topic for another day), nor get much news from television anyway, but this story is of some interest in asserting some further background on the alleged influence of outside groups in the preparation of the draft constitution. Something I don’t know anything about. I have said before that the process was not ideal and it should have been more transparent and participatory if it wasn’t going to use the prior “Bomas Draft” that Kenyans never voted on previously. Nonetheless, it went to Parliament which could have amended it. I continue to be unconvinced that in Kenya the totality of the language that relates to abortion will have the impact that some in U.S. “pro-life” politics are claiming, but Kenyans will have to decide. And there are certainly some details and perspectives on the involvement of U.S. interest groups and activists that Fox has ignored here.
I will say this: if we tried today, in the United States to pass a new Constitution from scratch what is the likelihood that we could do this well? Would we be able to have any type of deliberative and reasoned discussion? This is one of the reasons the U.S. government should exhibit a little more humility in addressing democratization elsewhere in the world. We have inherited a system with solid fundamentals, but its not like the way we behave much of the time is what everyone should aspire to.
Update: A Nairobi Star story features a statement from Ambassador Ranneberger reiterating that his approach is sanctioned by the President and that he is not worried about a few critics attacking him.
Ranneberger spoke at a ceremony for American Peace Corp volunteers:
‘You should know that the stakes are extremely high whichever way the outcome of the referendum will be,” Ranneberger told the Peace Corps He asked them to participate in the current debate in Kenya.
President JF Kennedy launched the Peace Corps in 1961 and to date it has trained 6,000 Kenyans in small business management, maths, science, health and ICT.
Peace Corps Volunteers country director, Steven Wisecarver, said he wants the volunteers for Kenya increased to 150 per intake.
Researcher Tom Wolfe, a doyen Peace Corps Volunteer, asked the 36 to be humble as they learned about Kenyan society is.
“While the role of Ranneberger has been questioned in politics, nobody has criticised the American Peace Corps role in Kenya,” Wolfe said.
However, the congressman does not bother to make the distinction between the ‘Yes’ campaign and other activities related to the referendum, and different aspects of the reform agenda.
Supporting the Committee of Experts that produced the document does not amount to funding one side in the campaign.
Nor can helping the Interim Independent Electoral Commission that will manage the poll in any way be deemed partisan.
Some of the groups mentioned by Mr Smith deny receiving referendum campaign funds from the US Government or any of its agencies,
In a nutshell, Congressmen Smith’s claims do not add up. More seriously, they are based on one monstrous political lie — that President Obama is breaking American law by funding a constitution that promotes abortion.
The Proposed Constitution of Kenya will not allow abortion on demand. It is apparent that his concern is not protection of the Kenyan woman from unrestricted abortion; it is the pursuit of a rabidly fundamentalist right-wing agenda that has never reconciled itself to the Obama presidency, and will employ all means, fair or foul, to bring down the first black president of the United States.
The biggest lie does not stand up to scrutiny. For the first time in Kenya, the constitution will specifically outlaw abortion, save for the common sense exception where the life of the mother is in danger.
Mr Smith might also appreciate that the new constitutional prohibition will make it much more difficult to procure an abortion in Kenya than in his New Jersey.