I have long been convinced that one of the reasons for the “tribal” tensions among Kenyans is the ability of Kenya’s political elite to manipulate access to information to manipulate public opinion.
Now that we have the Carter Center final report ultimately acknowledging that the 2013 election cannot be counted on to have fully reflected “the will of the Kenyan people”, and when we see how much more divided Kenyans are by “tribe” and politics than they were before the failed election of 2007, I want to revisit my past suggestion that the Kenyan wananchi need to be told the truth about what happened in the 2007 election.
Continuing obscurantism about the facts of the 2007 election debacle feeds continuing obscurantism about the post election violence and feeds impunity. Everything is just a “controversy” and no one is accountable for anything. And whoever holds governmental power in Kenya can largely define the narrative to their own ends–and now we see them acting aggressively to seek further control of the media and to shut down independent voices in Kenyan civil society (for latest, see “Win for NGOs as funds Bill rejected”).
Readers of this blog will know that I learned eventually through my FOIA requests that our Ambassador in 2007 himself witnessed the tally sheets being changed at the Electoral Commission of Kenya headquarters to give Kibaki the necessary numbers. (“Part Ten–FOIA Documents from Kenya’s 2007 Election–Ranneberger at the ECK: “[M]uch can happen between the casting of votes and final tabulation of ballots and it did”).
Readers of this blog will also remember, I hope, that we have learned from The Daily Nation that the State Department subsequently, in February 2008, issued “visa warning” letters to the Deputy Chairman and two other Commissioners of the Electoral Commission of Kenya “suspected of accepting bribes to fix election results tally at ECK Headquarters”. Also, as I have noted, a senior third country diplomat told me in January 2008 that his country had learned separately of large bribes to ECK personnel and I cannot imagine that this evidence was not shared with the State Department.
Whatever the motivations of those involved in keeping the facts hidden at the time, they are no longer relevant now–better late than never in telling Kenyans what we know.