Instead of “the coalition of the killing” a “coalition of the stealing”?
Let us review the next presidential election campaign after Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga shook hands on February 28, 2008 to end the 2007 election crisis and the related violence.
In the later part of the lead up to that 2013 “open” presidential campaign, with Mwai Kibaki completing has second and final term, the political dynamics of how to treat the 2007-08 murder and mayhem of the Post Election Violence were dramatically turned.
The 2007-08 election fraud and Post Election Violence had triggered from the February 28 agreement the compilation of a coalition administration for Kibaki’s second term (the so-called “Government of National Unity”) with Raila Odinga getting a temporary Prime Minister post with a contested but limited role, and Musalia Mudavidi and Uhuru Kenyatta representing the ruling PNU and opposition ODM parties as Deputies. William Ruto, the Kalenjin member of the ODM “Pentagon” got the Agriculture Ministry, an important post for his Rift Vally region.
The 2007-08 debacle also generated on the American side focus on a “reform agenda” that included a revival of U.S. attention to corruption issues (we had taken umbrage at the Anglo Leasing scandal starting in 2004, and the Arturo/Armenian Brothers, the Standard raid and such embarrassments back before the war kicked up in Somalia with the Ethiopians in December 2006) and culminated in support for a revival of the constitutional reform process including regional “devolution”, a persistent issue throughout Kenyan political history. A basic framework for the “reform agenda” efforts was the National Accord and Reconciliation Act that was passed by Kenya’s new ODM-majority parliament in early 2008 to effectuate the settlement. Critical parts of the deal have ultimately been repudiated by Kenya’s current government, most conspicuously the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission process, and some were sadly constricted within the first months of implementation (In particular, investigation of the presidential election by the so-called “Kreigler Commission” was truncated in spite of intelligence revealing bribery at the ECK and secret “visa bans” by the U.S. against election commissioners revealed by published leaks in 2010).
Most importantly, no one of any stature or clout was ever prosecuted by Kenyan authorities for the 1000+ deaths and displacement of 600,000, and the the rape and arson and the rest. Put in proper perspective from where things stood on February 28, 2008, a nightmare of impunity really.
In hindsight maybe the “real deal” on February 28 was always “everybody gets away with everything” but that was very much not what we were told and led to believe at that time and for some years after, by either side in Kenya or the donor diplomats. When Parliament voted to duck its responsibilities to try suspects in the Kenyan system and defer to the ICC, rallying with the slogan “don’t be vague, go to The Hague,” the presented spin was that the Government would actually substantively cooperate with ICC prosecutions,. In hindsight that probably did not merit any credibility in the first place.
By the time all but two of the cases against the suspects identified by the Office of the Prosecutor as “most responsible” had fallen by the wayside, the two left were the longtime KANU mates, Kenyatta and Ruto. In the run up to the ill fated 2007 election, they were KANU leaders in opposition. KANU had been part of the “No” or “Orange” campaign on Kibaki’s 2005 constitutional referendum and both were seen as potential opposition presidential candidates by 2007. When Uhuru as KANU Party leader and Leader of the Official Opposition took the unprecedented step of “crossing” to support Kibaki’s re-election (along with KANU’s Godfather, “retired” President Moi) and taking the party with him, Ruto broke to stay in opposition and join ODM to contest the nomination, ending up in “the Pentagon” with the others.
In the common unique predicament of facing ICC charges from the Post Election Violence, as longtime partners and as claimants to Kikuyu and Kalenjin leadership– and thus representing the most powerful voting groups who had always held the presidency and most recently clashed over it–Kenyatta and Ruto were an obvious pair. See “When did Uhuru and Ruto fight and why is their partnership allegedly so surprising?”.
With Ruto and Kenyatta as a “victims” Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka as the opposition CORD campaign were back-footed and never found a consistent voice to address the challenge.
Kalonzo was arguably the major politician least tainted by suspicion of involvement with the violence but was compromised by allowing himself to be used as its international diplomatic apologist starting even in Washington by early February 2008 as Kibaki’s new second term Vice President while the killing continued, and continuing on to seek support at the U.N. Security Council to stop the ICC process as well as around the African Union. Raila himself never seemed to be able to settle on a clear or consistent position or message on prosecution of the violence either as a matter of law and policy, or morally.
Strictly from a stability standpoint the Western donors, especially those who helped support negotiation of an end to the violence in 2008, a Kikuyu/Kalenjin pairing was obviously the least risk option, which presumably would mean Ruto as URP leader and Kenyatta for TNA after the tragic helicopter crash that killed TNA Interior Minister George Saitoti.
Under the circumstances the flawed election itself was a happy success for the donors because “Kenya didn’t burn” and the opposition did not further resist after the controversial court decision. It does not seem credible to argue that the IEBC’s Count was anywhere near complete enough in the absence of the Results Transmission System which was said to have failed but was never going to work to warrant a 50.07% margin for the candidates favored by the incumbent president over the opposition, but it quite plausible to argue that the Uhuruto ticket did have a plurality and it was safer not to have a runoff since having the election over was the most important thing. It might have been a bit awkward at first to have Kenya’s leaders charged with the political bloodletting but it did not seriously impede relationships and eventually, sure0 enough, the cases went away and the circle of impunity was unbroken.
Given this history, knowing how Kenyans and Westerners handled pending charges for the Post Election Violence the last time an incumbent Kenyan president was “retiring” due to term limits, what do you think the impact of corruption charges might be on the 2022 race? Another coalition of “targets”, more mass prayer rallies for the victim/candidates who might be guilty but should not be “singled out” when they are representatives and champions of their tribes? And again, from a risk mitigation standpoint, surely it is safer to let the most dangerous people have their way?