Kenya Referendum Slugfest One Month Out and other news

“‘No’ Team Attacks U.S. Envoy Over New Kenya Law” Daily Nation, July 2

My take: the Referendum campaign continues to get messier. And we are not helping, having not learned our lesson from the last election. Ranneberger endorsed the draft constitution, then the Administration backed off, after GOP Congressmen complained, raising the tenuous issue of U.S. legal restrictions on “lobbying for abortion” overseas–muddying the waters by not addressing the matter clearly. With the Biden visit and Obama speech on KBC, the official line was that we were not trying to tell Kenyans how they should vote, but were offering inducements if they did vote yes. Now Ranneberger is again making himself an issue in the yes/no campaign in Kenya directly. At this point, I think we (the United States) need to be very concerned about a non-violent and free election and a credible and accepted result, which is the thing of foremost importance. I think the proposed constitution has important positives and am concerned that missing the opportunity to pass this now could be very unfortunate, but Kenyans have to decide this for themselves–and frankly I do not think that they are more likely to vote “yes” because the Ambassador gets mixed up in it.

If many of Kibaki’s circle of ministers are “watermelons”, green on the outside but red on the inside, are we “kiwis”, brown and fuzzy on the outside and green on the inside (and foreign)? Could we be straightforward and consistent, just to try it out and see if that works better than what happened last time?

Certainly the Administration sent another very mixed signal by extending Ranneberger’s tenure again.

Some links of interest:

“House’s Special Gift to Kenyans in Choice to Lead Anti-Graft Agency” Kwamchetsi Makokha spoofs the nomination of P.L.O. Lumumba to head the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, Daily Nation, July 2

“Fear and Loathing in Nairobi” John Githongo writes in the new Foreign Affairs (subscription).

ABC News: “Some of the Best Paid Politicians in the World are in . . . Kenya???”

“Jeffrey Gettleman: Reporting from Nairobi” on NPR’s Fresh Air

“Current Conditions and U.S. Policy in the Horn of Africa”, Congressional Testimony by Ted Dagne of CRS, June 17

What do you think?

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