NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 31 – The Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld the decision by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to declare the next General Election for March 4, 2013.
The decision was in a majority ruling of four-to-one after Justice Martha Koome differed, arguing that elections should be held by January 15, 2013 at the latest.
Justices Hannah Okwengu, Kalpana Rawal and David Maraga agreed with the majority decision read by Justice Erastus Githinji to have the polls held within 60 days upon the expiry of the term of the current Parliament, which ends on January 14, 2013.
The High Court had in January ruled that the first polls since a disputed vote in December 2007 should be held either within 60 days of the dissolution of the Grand Coalition government or within 60 days after the expiry of the term of the current Parliament.
The Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) and the Caucus for Women’s Leadership appealed against the High Court ruling claiming that the judges misinterpreted the Constitution.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had set the date of the elections for March 4, 2013 after the Principals failed to give any guidance.
David Throup, in a commentary up on the Center for Strategic and International Studies website, handicaps the impact of the ICC charges on the Kenyan presidential campaign. In a nutshell, Throup posits that Raila gets elected easily if Uhuru and Ruto are allowed to stay in the race as Uhuru is not popular enough, broadly enough to pose a strong challenge. If Uhuru and Ruto are disqualified, this would allow Saitoti to come to the fore as the establishment (non-reformist) alternative and that Saitoti could give Raila a run for his money, so to speak.
Will the decisions of the ICC and the Kenyan court make any difference to the election battle? Perhaps, but not in the way that many people think. The banning of Kenyatta and Ruto is more likely to work against Raila Odinga, current prime minister and election frontrunner, than to weaken his opposition. It is becoming increasingly evident that Kenyatta is unelectable. . . .
Ruto may personally be willing to endorse Kenyatta—after all he was his presidential campaign manager in 2002, and relations between the two men remain good—but Kalenjin community elders are unlikely to agree, especially as the Kikuyu and Kalenjin fight over the political spoils in the new Nakuru County, a major center of violence in 2007–2008. Local Kikuyu leaders are demanding almost complete control, precluding any agreement between the communities. As a result, at least two-thirds of Kalenjin voters will end up supporting Odinga in the second round, whatever Ruto says.
. . . .
On this calculation, the winner of the presidential election seems likely to be Prime Minister Odinga, who since he first contested the presidency in 1997 has built up a broad coalition, centered on his Luo ethnic group. Odinga commands the support of 40 to 45 percent of voters, stretching from Lake Victoria to the Indian Ocean and from the isolated Somali-populated Northeastern Province to bustling Nairobi. He is the frontrunner, and neither Kenyatta nor Ruto is capable of effectively challenging his momentum.
. . . .
If Kenyatta is banned from contesting the presidency, Saitoti seems likely to emerge as the frontrunner to take over the mantle of Kikuyu candidate. His 20 years in Moi’s government, moreover, means that he has good relations with many Kalenjin leaders, stretching far beyond the former president’s inner circle. Thus, Saitoti could bring together the Gikuyu-Embu-Meru and the Kalenjin-Maasai-Turkana-Samburu in a formidable challenge to Odinga. An Odinga-Saitoti contest would be a closely fought two-horse race, and it is difficult to predict who might emerge victorious. Odinga would present himself as the candidate of reform, while Saitoti would clearly represent the old order.
Saitoti’s profile is certainly raised by the war Kenyan troops are fighting in Somalia while he serves as Minister of Internal Security. Certainly this Ministry played a key role in the 2007 election campaign and the immediate aftermath.
It’s interesting to reflect back on Saitoti’s appointment by Kibaki along with Kalonzo Musyoka and the rest of the “half cabinet” during the post election violence. Here is Xan Rice in The Guardian, January 8, 2008 “Fury as Kenyan leader names ministers”:
“This is simply another attempt to undermine the mission of John Kufuor,” the opposition leader’s spokesman, Salim Lone, said. “It’s not only a blow to the peace process, it shows that Kibaki is has no intention of even starting the process.”
Analysts agreed. Mutahi Ngunyi, a political scientist, said the move was in “bad faith”. “He has already concluded peace talks before they have begun,” he added.
Mwalimu Mati, a civil society leader, said the appointments – especially that of the internal security minister, George Saitoti, who is deeply unpopular in Kenya and was forced to resign a cabinet post in 2006 over links to the country’s biggest-ever corruption scandal, was “like raising a red flag to a bull – and the bull is going to charge”.
However, Amos Kimunya, a key Kibaki ally who was reappointed as the finance minister, denied the move would further alienate the opposition.
“The critical ministries of the government have to run,” he told the Guardian. “Other players can join the government at a later stage, and the president can change his mind on his ministers any time.”
- Time to move on a decision on Uhuru and Ruto eligibility to run for president . . . (africommons.wordpress.com)
- Kenya and the ICC: Brace yourself (economist.com)
- Kenyan leaders face human rights trial (edition.cnn.com)
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – Kenyans have the next 21 days to submit their views on a preliminary report proposing the review of electoral boundaries that was launched on
Monday by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The commission said it would conduct public hearings in all the 47 counties to get Kenyans’ views on the boundaries for constituencies and wards.
IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan said his team would also accept emails and written submissions hand delivered to the Constituency Election Coordination Office.
The schedules for the public hearings will be released on Tuesday.
“We are going to have eight teams going round the country to collect views from the public on what they think. The teams will go round the country for 21 days to hear out Kenyans,” he said.
However concerns have already started mounting over the report, which is almost a replica of the report prepared by the now defunct Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC), led by Andrew Ligale.
Hassan explained that the IEBC had to use the IIBRC report as their primary reference point as required by the Constitution and didn’t have much choice. The IEBC also used the parliamentary report on the Ligale document as its second reference point.
He further asked Kenyans to exercise decorum and remain objective as they familiarised themselves with the contents of the report so as to ensure that the country attained the gains of devolution.
“Allow me to make a humble plea to all Kenyans, particularly to politicians; let us exercise restraint. The commission recognises the sensitivity of some of the issues at hand and we reiterate our devotion to diligently uphold the law,” he assured.
After the 21-day period for public participation, the commission will take 14 days to look into any concerns raised before considering them in the final report. The report will then be forwarded to the parliamentary committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which will again take another 14 days to scrutinise it before presenting it in Parliament.
Members of Parliament will then have seven days to debate the report and adopt it with or without amendments after which it will be returned to the IEBC for an extra 14 days before it is gazetted and published.
“Kenyans will then get 30 days to raise their objections at the High Court which will take 30 days to resolve. Only then can the IEBC proceed to map out the new electoral units for purposes of voter registration and other electoral processes,” he explained.
Although the IEBC Act states that the High Court should determine any such issues within 30 days, the Constitution states that such an application shall be heard and determined within three months from the date it was filed.
. . . .
This should be interesting. If everything goes exceedingly well, Kenyans will be within a few months ready to register to vote in new constituencies for the next election.
A key variable to watch for in the process will be transparency and how serious “the donors” supporting the process are about making sure that Kenyans ultimately know how and why they end up with the constituencies they end up with.
*The first two years of this blog have coincided with my wife’s graduate school program–she graduated in December (proud smile!) so I will need to be especially aware of evening and weekend time reading and writing about Africa. As I have mentioned, this blog has been in significant part a tool of my own education, so there is a symmetry here.
*At the same time, 2012 is a huge year for Kenya, and the natural opportunity for the fulfillment of the hopes and aspirations of so many of us who were involved in some way in the 2007-08 election fiasco, so I will do my best to stay highly engaged. Likewise, we once again have a simultaneous presidential campaign in the U.S., which will just makes things that much more interesting.
*Regardless, I do want to take advantage at present of my literal “distance” to observe and comment on larger themes and not get too sucked into the daily cycle of purported Kenyan campaign news. I learned quickly during the last campaign that every day brings big announcements breathlessly covered by the competitive Kenyan media–and of course this is available to us globally through modern ICT (and a real aspect of the campaign since the votes and especially contributions of the diaspora will be important)–but most of them are of little lasting significance.
*My distance from Washington will also, I hope, let me have something of a “bird’s eye view” on what is similar and what is different in the approach of the U.S. government and U.S. politicians and other actors to the Kenyan campaign and other events.
The former Justice minister is set to announce her bid to clinch the top seat come the next General Election, due in 2012, at the National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.
Ms Karua has distinguished herself as a human rights campaigner and a vocal anti-graft crusader especially in parliamentary debates.
. . . .
Ms Karua has also distanced herself from ethnic political alliances and has refused to play second fiddle to Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta in central Kenya politics. She is on record saying that the era of political dynasty is gone and Kenyans should be allowed to elect leaders based on choice.
With the launch, the Gichugu MP will become only the third woman to vie for the presidency in Kenyan history. In 1997, Water minister Charity Ngilu and environmentalist Wangari Maathai endured unsuccessful presidential bids.
The Standard has posted an interesting story on-line for the Sunday paper under the headline: “The hidden battle of class and power in Central Kenya”.
Several personalities and political forces are digging in to inherit President Kibaki’s Central Province voting bloc and mantle, which is estimated to be worth four million-plus votes.
However, underlying this succession battle is a simmering rivalry in the politics of class and power that has been playing out for about a century.
Macharia Munene, a professor of history at the United States International University, Nairobi, says this class struggle dates back to colonial times. Then, peasants invented a tradition of resistance against colonialism.
However, a section of Africans, the so-called loyalists, collaborators and homeguards, opted to work for the colonial authorities in exchange for privileges and goodies like education, land, and jobs.
The resistance would culminate in the violent confrontation between the natives coming together under the Mau Mau resistance movement, and the British colonial government.
Central Province saw the most intense action for the seven years the Mau Mau uprising lasted. The relationship and roles of both loyalists and nationalists was more pronounced and hostile in the region than in other areas.
However, at independence, collaborators seized the levers of power and proceeded to economically and politically dominate State affairs, including distribution of resources, opportunities, senior civil service and parastatal jobs.
“Unfortunately, it was the loyalists who were better placed to take over power, having enjoyed cosy relationships with the departing colonial powers, but also having enjoyed privileges like better education than their nationalist brethren,” says Macharia.
It is in this context that Michuki’s statement has re-ignited the twin narrative that has defined Kenya’s and central Kenya politics.
The narrative of one community, two classes in perpetual struggle for political and economic power. It is a context in which a wealthy minority uses its access to political power to increase its economic fortunes at the expense of the majority.
First it was the British colonial settler minority (1895-1963), and then the Kenyan political and economic elite (1963-to date).
The scholar says this elite in central Kenya has dominated regional politics and seeks to succeed Kibaki.
President Kibaki himself was through out the Kenyatta regime considered an outsider. Even in 2002, he only made it to power on the back of a broad and most inclusive political movement the original National Rainbow Coalition and was even abandoned by his erstwhile ally Njenga Karume.
The foremost politician seeking to destabilise the status quo in Central Province is Gichugu MP Martha Karua who has made it clear she would be gunning for president in 2012. Political analysts saw Michuki’s statement as a warning to Karua, whom this vcartel sees as a spoiler.
Former Subukia MP, Koigi Wamwere, says Michuki’s endorsement of Uhuru is an attempt by this economic elite to perpetuate itself.
“Michuki is warning other pretenders to the throne not to dare even try,” Koigi said.
By coincidence I started reading Koigi Wamwere’s autobiography I Refuse to Die during my trip to Washington to the MCC this week, so this is especially topical for me.
As I noted previously, Uhuru Kenyatta has been in New York and Washington of late as Kenya’s Finance Minister, as well as co-Deputy Prime Minister, attending UN and World Bank meetings and advocating for MCC compact status for Kenya. Amos Kimunya was Kibaki’s initial appointment to the Finance Ministry when he named the key cabinet spots during the post-election period. When Kimunya was forced to step aside due to the scandal over the sale of the Grand Regency hotel, Kibaki tapped Michuki, who was then succeeded by Kenyatta.
It’s especially interesting to look at how this plays in relation to the U.S. During the post-colonial heyday of the Cold War of course, the U.S. aligned with Jomo Kenyatta (and reportedly helped fund Tom Mboya covertly while the Soviets reportedly helped fund Oginga Odinga) and KANU “conservatives”, including Moi in his day. The U.S. interests supposedly served were both direct military alliance (access to bases and such) and other security cooperation, and seemingly some sort of ideological alliance based on the notion that the Kenyan model of one party formal “African socialism” involving conservative patronage, and state-created and supported oligarchy was preferable from a U.S. perspective to a version more akin to Nyerere’s or other more traditional, populist or radical “socialisms”.
Since the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall things have been complicated. Smith Hempstone, George H.W. Bush’s political appointment to the Ambassadorship, really stuck his neck out to push democratic reform and made a major contribution to forcing Moi to amend the constitution to allow competing parties, while maintaining military and security cooperation. Hempstone, a former editor of the Washington Times clearly came to the post with U.S. conservative bona fides and was vigorously anti-socialist. At the same time, however, other Americans continued to support Moi. As I noted in a previous post, one of Washington’s leading conservative think tanks generated a pro-Moi position paper in 1990 and Republican consultant and lobbyist Charlie Black and his firm represented Moi on past the first multi-party election in 1992 and into 1993 according to their foreign agent registration filings.
Hempstone believed that supporting democratic ideals, in itself, was a key part of the United States’ proper role in world affairs. In his book Rogue Ambassador: an African Memoir he writes “I told Raila it was untrue that the U.S. would not accept because of his leftist past his father’s election as president if he won freely, fairly, and lawfully. The mistakes of thirty years ago were water over the dam. Raila said he had never believed otherwise.” After Hempstone’s term ended in 1993, however, active U.S. interest in supporting democratic opposition to Moi waned.
Just as Hempstone did not think there were major ideological differences between the opposition candidates in 1992, the USAID officials that I spoke to in the run up to the 2007 election did not see major ideological differences among the opposition contenders or between Raila as ODM nominee and Kibaki. Nonetheless, the U.S. through Ambassador Ranneberger took a pro-Kibaki stance toward the election (this was not just my direct experience “on the ground”, but also the perception of one of America’s leading Africanists and Kenya experts who said on a panel at the African Studies Association last fall that he was convinced that the U.S. had supported Kibaki).
Despite initial economic successes and popular support after his election in 2002, Mr. Kibaki had gained a reputation for playing divisive tribal politics, and his administration had become tainted by scandal. Still, he had a good relationship with the Bush administration and generally supported American counterterrorism policies in East Africa.
Mr. Odinga was viewed skeptically by some in Washington because of his flamboyant manner and his background: he was educated in East Germany and named his son after Fidel Castro.
At the same time, then-Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, now with the Whitaker Group lobby firm and Carnegie Mellon University, was by reputation thought of as close to the Kenyatta family. Uhuru, however, was named in the Waki Commission report on the post-election violence as a suspect in playing a role in supporting revenge attacks by tribal militia and he is said to be likewise a key suspect in the current International Criminal Court investigation on this basis.
Ironically the Washington Times was conspicuous in publishing 2008 attacks on Raila Odinga, and linking him to Obama and the U.S. presidential race. Now, Glenn Beck attacks the new Kenyan constitution and Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich are attacking President Obama for being linked to his father who was of the same “tribe” as Oginga Odinga (even though Obama, Sr. was part of the U.S. government “airlift” to study in the United States while Raila is criticized for having studied in the Eastern bloc).
Looking ahead to a 2012 race in Kenya, during the 2012 race in the United States, if the Kenyan contest comes down to Raila Odinga versus Uhuru Kenyatta, with rich “class” and “tribal” subtexts understood by few Americans, what will the United States and other Americans do officially and unofficially? Will we prioritize democracy?; stability?; some notion of ideological compatibility?; some particular policy objective? And where does the issue of the post-election violence and the ICC fit in?
Editorial: Obama born on Chinese warship off Peru’s coast?
At some point this “birtherism” becomes a significant question about American democracy. Are we becoming better informed or less well informed in the “information age”? What are the limits to “urban legend” and “suburban legend”, if any? To what extent do politicians try to ride the “coattails” of these type of legends? Will we see (or experience and not see) more active efforts by “mainstream” political players to organize or more actively exploit this sort of thing? On the “birther” matter specifically, how will this play out with simultaneous campaigns in the US and Kenya in 2012?
I am sure that most Americans who have lived in Kenya recently have experienced strange incidents of people telling them stories or asking questions about Obama being born in Kenya. I had a prominent lawyer from Texas tell me about how in Kenya it was common knowledge that Obama was born there and that there was a “big monument” to reflect this–and that he had been told this by “African-Americans”. I had to explain that I had lived in Kenya for a year during the 2008 American and Kenyan presidential campaigns and managed to completely miss this while I was there.
We approach the halfway mark in the second Kibaki administration and watch as Kenyan politicians grapple with how to position themselves most advantageously for the next election, and as Kenyan wananchi hope for any opening toward the restoration of the sense of hope and empowerment experienced in the 2002 election. Much of the focus right now is on the process by which the members of the political elite mediate among themselves what to offer to the public for vote in a referendum on a new constitution.
Obviously this is a high stakes endeavor involving a degree of risk that Kenyan politicians do not normally indulge–which is why Kenyans continue to have a constitution that no one admits to liking and everyone promises to change when they are running for office. The first Kibaki administration lost its moment of public goodwill over the failure to accept reforms limiting presidential power. This created an opening for a new opposition center of gravity with the “Orange Democratic Movement” and ended the opportunity for Kibaki to win a majority in seeking re-election in 2007. With the old constitution, however, Kibaki did not need a majority to keep power.
To my way of thinking, it may be a distraction to focus too much right now on most of the intricate issues of law presented in the Committee of Experts draft constitution, in that the reality is that Kenya is simply not at a point where the law as written is such an important determinate of the rules of everyday life either for citizens or leaders. To me, the big picture issues of how Kenya will be governed in the future, if a new constitution is approved, are (1) how the president is chosen and (2) devolution versus centralization.
Presidential Elections to Date and the Current Pursuit of 2012
The political class seems to have abandoned the idea of having a Prime Minister which has been seen as a central point of contention in the past. To me this reflects the final denouement of the notion of the second Kibaki administration as being a “coalition government” involving “power sharing” between a Kibaki-led PNU establishment and an Odinga-led opposition.
In a nutshell, Kibaki in seeking a second term lost around 20-points off his 2002 majority, but the ECK which he appointed declared him to have won a plurality and to have met the thresholds of 25% in each of five provinces. Almost all outside observers have concluded that the election was stolen and surveys indicated that 75% of Kenyans believed so as well. Kibaki won a majority in the 2002 campaign and lost it in his performance in office, but retained power.
Since Moi conceded to allow formal “multi-partyism” in the wake of the end of the Cold War Kenya has had four elections. In three, an incumbent president sought re-election, failed to get a majority of the vote, but was declared the winner with a plurality, followed by significant violence. This was the pattern of 1992, 1997 and 2007. In 2002 there was no incumbent due to a constitutional reform imposing a two-term limit–a “macro level” legal reform that was ultimately respected. In this unique situation, the two leading candidates to succeed the president were both key members of the elite political establishment, and simultaneously key members of the Kikuyu tribal and business elite. Under the circumstances, the obvious landslide winner was the candidate positioned as “the opposition” while also being, in fact, part of the core elite.
How much alike were the candidates in 2002? Let’s look at some reportage from today’s Sunday Nation:
Mr Kibaki’s apparent endorsement of Mr Kenyatta’s manoeuvres in PNU is hardly surprising.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Kibaki share long-standing family ties. It is said that it was Mr Kibaki who suggested to Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, that he should name his son Uhuru (freedom) to mark the attainment of independence in 1963.
The two families, whose private residences are barely 500 metres apart in the upmarket Muthaiga residential area in Nairobi, also share deep political connections.
George Muhoho, an uncle of the younger Kenyatta, was one of the founders of President Kibaki’s Democratic Party of Kenya.
While Mr Kenyatta has unquestionably taken up the role of the main man within PNU . . .
While 2002 might have seemed at first to be a breakthrough election representing a fundamental step up to a higher level of democratic development–rather than something of a bait-and-switch–by 2007 we were back to a situation where an incumbent who could not command a majority was seeking re-election.
Given the History, Why Not Create a Strong Prime Minister?
I think it would make sense for Kenyans to chose a presidential rather than parliamentary system, because a parliamentary system is based on functioning political parties. Having a “prime minister” without a party or parties in government and a party or parties in opposition in the parliament doesn’t make sense to me. Kibaki effectively gutted the nascent existing political parties as president by being elected to parliament and as president as the leader of the Democratic Party, but not using DP as a tool of governance nor leaving it, and disdaining to chose or form another party to run for re-election. Ultimately “PNU” was slapped together a the last minute, neither quite a party, nor quite a coalition–and was little more or less than the Kibaki re-election apparatus at the time.
Because Kibaki did not lead an organized party, after the election the claims on his loyalty were personal and tribal–he was not going to negotiate anything to do with the presidency–that was off the table–but spoils could be shared as he deemed necessary. Thus ultimately, he was able to cut a deal with Odinga without having to answer to a party. The settlement was against the wishes of many of his key partisans, including at least some of the PNU-side negotiators in the Kofi Annan-led talks which had in fact collapsed before the last-minute deal between “the principals”. After all, he was giving away jobs and titles that his second tier supporters wanted, rather than what he needed for himself.
ODM is likewise unlikely to survive the run-up to the next election. ODM had a certain level of potential as a party. It was strengthened as a party, I would argue, when Kibaki’s claim on Uhuru led Uhuru to pull KANU out of the opposition coalition. Uhuru couldn’t buck Kibaki and keep his seat in parliament and being leader of KANU was not enough for him without the seat. The clarity of the formal split with KANU left ODM in a position to develop as a party rather than a coalition. It survived the disruption of Kalonzo’s departure. It had a national leader in Odinga who even in the questionable ECK results won the vote in the entirety of the country other than Central Province by 1.5 million votes. Post-election however, its leader Odinga has no real power as Prime Minister to impose party discipline and Kenneth Marende whom ODM elected as Speaker its in greatest feat as a party holds an office that is treated in the strange current system as nonpartisan.
The Remaining Reform is the Requirement that the President Obtain a National Majority
Given the impracticality of expecting more from parliament or a prime minister without a level of development of political parties that simply has not transpired in these initial years of Kenya’s political opening, the reform that matters in my opinion, is to require that a presidential candidate obtain a national absolute majority. This would be a real change in and of itself, and could be one of those fundamental basics like the two-term limit that are actually honored and matter over time.
The Indian Ocean Newsletter reports in its monthly “free article” that Jimmie Kibaki, the President’s son, has been turned down serially by three politicians his Simama Kenya Youth Initiative has approached to back for State House in 2012. The most recent is Eugene Wamalwa, the younger brother of the late Vice President, who is said to plan to run under Ford Kenya. The original choice is said to have been Uhuru Kenyatta, who declined to leave KANU, followed by Deputy Minister Peter Kenneth.