Today the Carter Center Election Observation Mission released an additional report discussing briefly the findings and proceedings of the Supreme Court of Kenya in deciding the presidential election petition but primarily focused on the negotiations and preparations for the “fresh election” scheduled by the IEBC for 26 October.
There has been some public controversy and debate, as well as confusion, about the role of the UNDP in the funding and management of this years Kenyan election to a degree that was not apparent in the last two cycles. The UN is a big presence in the Nairobi and Kenyan economic and political scene, so it hardly surprising that their role in the overall outside democracy assistance program would come into scrutiny where things went badly and the election was annulled. Most recently there was an offer made by the IEBC to have the UNDP undertake ballot paper procurements, for instance, which was declined by the candidates. (I am not ready to wade into the thickets of the controversy about the fact that the most public face of the Commission itself other than the Chairman has retained her employment with UNDP in a leave status while accepting appointment from the President and taking office as an IEBC Commissioner in January and related matters,)
From an EU report at the beginning of the year:
The UNDP-led “Strengthening the Electoral Processes in Kenya Project” aims to strengthen Kenya’s electoral institutions, systems and processes in Kenya in view of the 2017 elections.
Following the EU’s support to Kenya during the 2013 elections, the EU is capitalising on the lessons learnt from that period to provide a better electoral support mechanism for future elections. The EU’s financial contribution to “Strengthening the Electoral Processes in Kenya” aims to develop stronger legal and institutional structures that will lead to transparent, credible and peaceful elections, as well as leading to more informed participation in the electoral process. In particular, we expect:
a strengthened institutional and legal framework for the electoral processes;
a strengthened participation of voters, parties and candidates in the electoral process with emphasis on women, youth and disabled
the delivery of more efficient, transparent and peaceful elections
a strengthened electoral justice and increased compliance with the electoral framework
The programme supports activities that cover the whole country. Beneficiaries of it include the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which will be the largest recipient of the programme’s assistance. Other beneficiaries include Kenyan institutions and organisations involved in the drafting of legislation, dispute resolution between political parties, media regulation, women’s empowerment and security, including:
the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties
the Kenya Law Reform Commission
the Judiciary and Political Parties Disputes Tribunal
the Director of Public Prosecutions
the Police Service
the National Cohesion and Integration Commission
other government agencies including county governments
civil society (including women movements) and media
The EU is contributing EUR 5 million to a projected total basket fund amount of EUR 21,5 million (US$24 million). The other donors to the “Strengthening the Electoral Processes in Kenya” project are currently DFID and USAID; some other donors might also join. To date (as of January 2017) US$14.65 million has been raised. The basket fund became operational in the second half of 2015, and activities will last till the end of 2018. The implementing partner is UNDP, with support from UNWOMEN.
Following the unlawful raid on AfriCOG in Nairobi yesterday, today the Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu election monitoring program which has been engaged since long before any of the International Election Observation Missions were constituted, released its Preliminary Findings.
COMESA believes that elections play a pivotal role in societal transformation in the region and provide a footstall for entrenching democratic principles.
Premised on this critical role, Member States have continued holding periodic elections which have heralded a new dawn by signifying steady progress towards deepening and institutionalizing democracy in the 19-member bloc.
Nonetheless, COMESA is still dispatching teams of Election Observers to issue Preliminary Statements just after the upcoming elections in Rwanda on August 4 and Kenya on August 8, with further reports after 90 days.
Zimbabwean Ambassador Dr. Simbi Mubako will lead the team for Kenya to arrive 30 July.
Think I am too jaded? Enjoy this:
The presidential elections in Rwanda follows the 2015 referendum that unanimously approved a constitutional amendment that allowed President Kagame to run for office in 2017. The forthcoming elections are considered important in Rwanda’s socio-economic and political progress.
In the past years, Rwanda has made significant progress in consolidating its political stability, economic growth and development. Furthermore, Rwanda has recorded major milestones in consolidating democracy through holding periodic parliamentary and presidential elections as stipulated in its legal framework.
Since 2008, COMESA has continued to support the elections process in Rwanda. COMESA observed the parliamentary that were held in 2008, 2013 and the presidential elections held in 2010.
I am all for extra diplomats and elders from the region being in Kenya for the election to meet diplomatic needs that may arise. But let’s not confuse this type of “intramembership” diplomatic obsevation with an independent election observation.
. . . .
This proposed sale contributes to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a strong regional partner who is a regional security leader, undertaking critical operations against al-Shabaab, and a troop contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The proposed sale of the MD 530F helicopters, weapons, ammunition, support items and technical support will advance Kenya’s efforts to conduct scout and attack rotary wing aircraft operations in support of their AMISOM mission. The MD 530F will also replace Kenya’s aging MD500 fleet, which is the current reconnaissance platform supporting Kenyan ground forces. This sale will significantly enhance the Kenyan Army’s modernization efforts and increase interoperability with the U.S. Armed Forces and other partners in the region. Additionally, a strong national defense and dedicated military force will assist Kenya in its efforts to maintain stability in East Africa.
Kenya will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal contractor will be MD Helicopters, Mesa, AZ. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
. . . .
The $418M L3 Air Tractor sale approved by the State Department in January remains pending for U.S. Congressional approval after objections raised by Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina.
It may be worth noting that the United States spends quite a lot of money through many institutions scattered across our country and in many others on the study of and writing reports about the factors driving security threats from the types of things we are concerned about in East Africa. I am not an expert on this and do not have time to read most of this as an interested amateur, but generally speaking I think the research tends to highlight concerns related to the Human Development Index factors and in particular the jobs crisis over any problems with lack of military hardware. Perhaps I misunderstand.
Of the laundry list of independent U.S. Government agencies Trump’s initial “skinny budget” submission to Congress proposes to eliminate, the USIP and the Wilson Center are specifically active on issues relating to democracy, war and peace in East Africa and the African Development Foundation is the one Africa-specific agency.
This is a quote from an email bulletin I received today from the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. She is an impressive woman I knew back in the local Republican Party in Nashville during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations when I was in law school:
Earlier this month, I announced the formation of an Opioid Abuse Task Force to combat the epidemic of opioid addiction in Tennessee. In 2015, more than 1,400 Tennesseans died from opioid abuse and there are currently more opioid prescriptions in our state than there are people. We cannot let this problem get any worse, and that’s why I am proud of my colleagues for working swiftly to come up with solutions to this problem.
Back then in the late 1980s the state government was run by Democrats with Republicans gaining ground in federal offices and presidential campaigns, as in most of the South. East Tennessee, where my mother grew up on a family dairy farm on the outskirts of a small town, had a Republican tradition as upland area that had been pro-Union or at least non-successionist in the Civil War, whereas the Confederate areas stayed fairly Democratic. For this reason Tennessee had an unusually competitive two party system with genuine efforts to sway overlapping groups of potential voters.
In more recent years, although I have not had the opportunity to be around much the GOP seems to have gradually consolidated control and the Democrats have receded into the cities. The GOP has simultaneously moved steadily to the right from being a center-right/right coalition back 25ish years ago and power has devolved from the party organizations to voters in open primaries (as in most Southern states voter registration in Tennesssee is not by party). As politics has moved right, the culture has moved “left” as in the rest of the country and much of what we “conservatives” thought we wanted to conserve is not so much in evidence anymore, as reflected in part in the dislocations associated with things like the opiod epidemic.
The opiod epidemic is a pretty fascinating story of policy, political and cultural failure–needless to say it’s embarrassing as hell to talk about and that much harder to solve.
Fortunately Donald Trump, leader of his new Republican Party spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Greater Washington today and promised a huge military build up to go along with the pre-existing program of paying pharmaceutical companies for the opioids. So not to worry–next week back to our regularly scheduled programming about elections for Africans.
Trump has exhibited no interest in Africa. Nor have any of his closest White House advisors. Except for some campaign comments about Libya and Benghazi, the new president has made very few remarks about the continent. And despite his global network of hotel, golf and tourist holdings, he appears to have no investments or business relationships in sub-Saharan Africa.
The one member of Trump’s inner circle that may have an interest in Africa is Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson. He has some experience of Africa because of his many years in the oil industry with ExxonMobil, most of whose successful dealings on the continent were with largely corrupt and authoritarian leaders.
If Tillerson appoints a moderate and experienced Africa expert to run the Africa Bureau – and there are a dozen Republicans who meet that definition – and if he is able to keep policy in the control of the State Department, African issues may not be pushed aside completely. But irrespective of who manages Trump’s Africa policy, there will be a major change from recent previous administrations.
President Obama pushed a strong democratic agenda and launched half a dozen new development programmes including Power Africa, Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative. Before him, Bush’s “compassionate” approach led to the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), two of America’s most widely-praised programmes on the continent.
But Trump’s view is more myopic . . .
Under Trump, any focus on Africa will likely be on military and security issues, not democracy, good governance or human rights. These policies are likely to find greater favour with Africa’s autocrats than civil society or local business leaders.
. . . . Photo from church of African-American freedmen from Cumberland Island, Georgia for Black History Month