Here is the story from The Daily Nation: Raila won 2007 election says Macharia.
The truth trickles out gradually. Of course, those of us involved in the Election Observation for the International Republican Institute were following those results being reported live on Kenyan television from our headquarters in Nairobi during that Friday-Sunday after the election on Thursday, December 27, 2007. Dr. Joel Barkan, our expert, explained by Saturday night that based on the numbers that were reported, it appeared that Kibaki could not win. (Part of the reason why I was surprised to be told early Sunday morning by our “lead delegate” that “it’s going to be Kibaki” during the time when the Electoral Commission of Kenya had suspended the announcement of results.)
I understood that Joel’s public statements back in Washington that we couldn’t say for sure that Raila won, but could say that Kibaki lost reflected that known results as reported by the media houses showed Kibaki could not have gotten the most votes. Realistically, under the first past the post system under Kenyan law at that time, this leaves Raila winning (since he didn’t lose his Kibera constituency to Stanley Livondo).
I assumed that one of the primary motivations for John Michuki’s then-notorious order suspending live broadcasting by the media houses from December 30 was to facilitate making sure those results that the media houses “took down” did not “resurface” after ECK Chairnan Samuel Kivuitu announced to an audience limited to the State-owned Kenya Broadcasting Commission that Kibaki had won after all.
As we know from my Freedom of Information Act Series research, Ambassador Ranneberger reported to Washington that he had personally witnessed the changed tally sheets at the ECK along with EU Observation Chief Lambsdorff. [In particular, see Part Ten, Ranneberger on ECK, “Much can happen . . . and it did”]
Unfortunately, Ranneberger nonetheless initially asked Kenyans to accept the results of the election without disclosing what he had witnessed and congratulations were quickly issued from a spokesman for the State Department back in the U.S. that Sunday. Subsequently we retracted the congratulations, said there were problems with the election and took the position that there was supposedly “no way to know” who won–still without disclosing what Ranneberger witnessed until his January 2, 2008 cable to Washington was declassified (with redactions) in response to my FOIA request.
As for the media house evidence, this stayed buried until now. The ECK never did publish any polling station, or even polling centre, results at all in the presidential race. The Kreigler Commission stayed off the presidential tally at the ECK–even though it was part of their legal charge as fairly construed.
After the election debacle, Ranneberger did spend a significant amount of energy promoting “the reform agenda” going forward during his remaining years in Nairobi. Unfortunately, it appears that “reform” largely failed to take (because reform built on a foundation of impunity for corruption was “a house built on sand”).
For more see my “War for History Series“.
And from the news before the holidays:
The Standard headlines John Githongo’s day in court on Anglo Leasing after all these years. Of course, Kibaki knew.
Sadly, embarassingly, the testimony comes not in a criminal prosecution of the looters, nor an action by the Government of Kenya to recover any of the millions of dollars lost–nor even a defense against claims for fraudulent debt–but rather in Githongo’s defense of himself in a libel action by one of those implicated in Githongo’s corruption disclosures when he left office in 2005.
It has been such a disappointment to me to see comfortable Westerners celebrate and bask in the reflected glow of Githongo’s courage as a whistleblower over the years while ultimately selling him out by looking the other way while at the next election the tallies were rigged to keep Kibaki and his cohort in power, followed by the Uhuruto succession after which the Government paid huge additional sums on Anglo Leasing debt and went on its merry way to ramp up corruption to new heights.
Kenya will not be secure so long as its Government remains so pervasively corrupt. Foolish fickleness by the U.S. and others in the West buys us nothing of value.
It’s not so much that I’m jaded, it’s just that I have watched this movie before–and even been an “extra” of sorts in one of the previous remakes.
Yes, corruption is obviously getting even worse within this Kenyan administration than within the last. But that was also true when I lived in Kenya during the end of the first Kibaki administration and into the beginning of the second.
There are several readily apparent reasons. For instance, when I lived in Kenya I made the acquaintance of a Western expat whose spouse was in the tourism business. Prior to the 2007 vote count corruption and violence, the tourism business was booming. But corruption was up as a cost of doing business as it was explained to me because to operate you had to pay off a second generation, too–the kids of the senior politicians. Presumably this generational expansion has continued. Why wouldn’t it?
The year before I moved to Kenya the UK and US envoys had been outspokenly opposed to the corruption, in the context of the Anglo Leasing revelations by John Githongo of massive corruption involving national security procurements, touching our own security interests aside from our sensibilities about criminal behavior, along with the outrageous shenanigans involving the Artur Brothers, and the Standard media raid, among others. The British envoy even offered the memorably colorful “vomit on our (the donors’) shoes” metaphor about the extent of the gluttonous “eating”.
But by the time I arrived in mid-2007 things were different. New personnel led the diplomatic missions. On the US side we apparently helped Moi and Kibaki get back together, and hosted Interior Minister John Michuki, of “rattling the snake” fame, who had taken credit for the Standard raid, on a security tour of the U.S. Michuki represented Kibaki at our Embassy’s Fourth of July party, where Moi unofficially planted himself to catch the receiving line.
And then we looked the other way at the corruption of the Electoral Commission of Kenya. Ambassador Ranneberger made sure to get his predecessor Ambassador Bellamy removed from our IRI Election Observation Mission on the basis that he was “perceived as anti-government”. Bellamy had spoken out on the corruption, in particular the Standard raid. The week before the vote, Ranneberger noted for the Kenyan public that Kenya was “on track” in fighting the vice of corruption, that we had had Enron in the U.S., that prosecutions for Anglo Leasing and Goldenburg could take time, and that the World Bank had given the Kibaki administration an award for procurement reform (of all things) and that he expected a “free and fair” election. And then we tried at first to sell the ECK’s election “count” even though we knew full well that it was bogus. When that didn’t fly, we supported “power sharing” so long as there was no new election before Kibaki’s full second term was up. According to a news report from Nairobi years later from stolen cables from “Wikileaks” we issued a couple of “travel bans” based on alleged evidence of bribery against two of the ECK commissioners, but we never disclosed this action or the evidence, why we singled out these two or anything else about the matter.
During the post election violence a diplomat explained to me that the reason many of the younger pols in Kibaki’s PNU coalition were against a power sharing settlement was that they didn’t want to share the secondary ministry appointments. Ultimately by adding opposition politicians into the second Kibaki administration through “power sharing” with extra ministries you further expanded the multigenerational set of stomachs to let eat. One way to look at the settlement naturally has been that Kibaki and Raila were willing to stop the fighting (so long as Kibaki retained with further ambiguity the full second term Presidency which the ECK had delivered to him) and the rest were bribed to acquiesce.
So you cannot tell me with a straight face that the diplomatic position of the United States in 2007-08 was to “oppose” corruption as a high rather than a subordinated priority.
After being stung by criticism from the election debacle, Ranneberger was reborn as an outspoken “reform agenda” campaigner for his extended tour on through the passage of a new constitution. He compiled dossiers on money laundering and drug smuggling through politico/business interests and encouraged action, albeit to no avail. His successors quietly moved on, however, and we helped sell a new badly handled election in 2013 by a new, but probably more pervasively corrupted electoral authority. We helped pay for expensive technology that was doomed by procurement fraud but kept quiet. The British Serious Fraud Office successfully prosecuted one of their companies and its owners for bribes on other election procurements, but the Kenyan administration has taken no action to follow up and we have kept our silence.
With time, we have come again to affectionately embrace our usual suspect “partners”, with new programs headquartered in our favorite African city of Nairobi. A photo op in the Oval Office with POTUS and FLOTUS for the Kenyan President and First Lady last year, followed this summer by a glowing official Presidential visit to Nairobi with a telegenic dance party at State House. Never mind what we said before; please can we give you more? Some eloquent speech about the cost of corruption, safely abstract from the burgeoning accumulation of years of specific cases on the impunity docket. Yes we can dance with this new set of shoes without even looking down at the vomit.
Surely then it can be no surprise that things have gotten that much worse. With a new report by Kenyan journalists on the longstanding implication of Kenyan Defense Forces which we help underwrite in Jubaland in the sugar and charcoal smuggling rackets, and fresh levels of embarrassment from the international press from the National Youth Service, irregular handling of bond proceeds amid rising debt levels, more land grabbing and another looted bank, all with a new election cycle approaching, the season has turned again and it is the time for furrowed brows. Time for the U.S. to lead a donor group to call on the current version of the anti-corruption authority. To talk again of “visa bans” and offers again to assist in “asset recovery”.
Instead of another remake, could this be a sequel offering a surprise ending, with say, even a few villains in jail, or at least less rich, as a cautionary tale for some and a bit of hope and inspiration for others? Or is this just another iteration of “the formula” in which the sheriff rides into town, frowns at the drunken brawl, then passes along to enjoy the cinematic scenery on the way home?
Only time will tell. I do think we genuinely would prefer to be against the corruption rather than aligned with it. We just lose our nerve and get distracted by other priorities that seem more immediate. Making a dent in Kenya’s entrenched culture of impunity would take a long hard slog, in the face of bitter opposition formal and informal. It would be messy and likely involve putting up with a bit of embarrassment–it could involve some risk and actual cost. In any event it would take a good while for us to convince the players that we had become serious.
In Foreign Affairs, Paul Hidalgo explains “Kenya’s Own Worst Enemy; Al Shabab Isn’t the Real Problem“:
Corruption, injustice, abuse, disillusionment, marginalization, and radicalization are the legacies of years of misguided policies in Kenya. After an al Shabab rampage in Garissa earlier this month left over 140 university students dead, these issues are impossible to ignore. If Nairobi continues to refuse to address them or fails to do so, the already troubled East African country will soon become even more unstable.
The radical Islamist group al Shabab is responsible for the series of terrorist attacks that have rocked Kenya in past few years. But the reality is that al Shabab is a shadow of what it once was. The al Qaeda-linked group has been pushed out of all major cities in Somalia and cut off from its financial lifelines. Its leaders have been decimated by drone attacks, internal strife, and defections. And that is why the group’s ability to easily attack within Kenya is so puzzling. For their part, Kenyan leaders have long contended that entities outside the government, namely Somalia-based fighters and the country’s minority Muslim population, are to blame. But the truth is that the main culprits are the culture and policies of the government itself.
Take, for example, Kenya’s security services, which are acknowledged as the most corrupt institution in one of the most corrupt countries in the world. . . .
Corruption might clear the way for attacks, but incompetence turns tragedies into national disasters. . . .
The security forces’ well-documented history of abuse, discrimination, and heavy handedness is directly connected to radicalization. . . .
Instead of trying to tackle all these issues, Kenyan leaders have fallen back on their usual responses: attacking easy targets and pursuing knee-jerk policies. As before, these simply make matters worse. . . .
. . . .
Pressure is mounting for Kenyatta to enact serious reforms, and his recent admission that there were security failures at Garissa may signal that things are shifting. But Kenyans shouldn’t hold their breaths. Nairobi has proven time and again that it is incapable of or unwilling to make difficult reforms. It may end up that civilians will be forced to take to the streets in a major way to push the government to action, or take matters into their own hands, such as the pledge from the country’s top Muslim organization to root out radical clerics from mosques. However it plays out, the longer Kenya waits to address its problems in some fashion, the more innocents will die and the more dysfunctional the state will become.
“John Githongo on Garissa: Kenya’s corrupt chickens have come home to roost,” from Kingsley Kipury and Simon Allison in Daily Maverick:
. . . .
Githongo’s main argument is that corruption has prevented Kenya from establishing an even remotely effective security sector, leaving it vulnerable to Al-Shabaab-style attacks. “Kenya has had a problem with terrorism for some time, and recognised the need for much improved equipment and technology for our security service to be able to deal with it. However national security is the last refuge of the corrupt, and there are those in government who decided that those are the contracts we are going to make money from. And in the pushing and the shoving and the disagreements and squabbling of people fighting for their cut, and things stopping and starting, goods being delivered half-baked or not at all, Kenya lost a tremendous opportunity to establish a very solid framework for defending itself against terrorism,” he said.
That’s the first problem. The second is the culture of corruption, engendered by the country’s political elite, which means that, for often trifling sums, individuals at all levels of the state are willing to turn a blind eye to threatening activity. “When people lower down the ladder in the security services, whether it’s in the police, immigration, intelligence, the military, when they see them [their superiors] steal from large scale security contracts, they then start perpetrating corruption lower down the ladder. That becomes a problem that becomes pervasive, and it is exemplified most starkly by the ease with which it would apparently seem possible for terrorists to be able to cross through our porous borders by paying small amounts of money to junior officials,” Githongo said.
For Githongo, it’s impossible to separate the current insecurity in Kenya from its history of corruption. “I think it’s definitely a case of chickens coming home to roost, vis-à-vis Anglo Leasing. If we had properly executed those contracts starting from around 2001 into 2004, we definitely wouldn’t be having the kind of problems we have right now, or at least they wouldn’t be at the scale they are at now.”
Crucially, however, corruption is not just history. According to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index, corruption in Kenya has worsened since President Uhuru Kenyatta came to power. Kenya is currently ranked 145th in the world for corruption, only just above the Central African Republic and nine spots below Nigeria.
In this context, it’s hardly surprising that Githongo reserves some of his strongest criticism for the current administration of Kenyatta. “This is the most corrupt administration since the [Daniel arap] Moi administration, if not more corrupt. . . .
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is deeply concerned over the most recent steps taken by the Kenyan government to further restrict the legitimate activities of domestic civil society organizations, under the stated auspices of countering terrorism. Earlier this week, alongside terrorist groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram, Kenya’s Inspector General of Police listed several notable human rights groups to be declared “Terrorist Organizations,” froze their bank accounts, and gave them 24 hours to clarify why they should not be designated.
“Governments have a real responsibility to meet the threat of terrorism and protect the welfare of their citizens, and civil society groups are indispensable to achieving these ends,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The Kenyan government has gone too far by including human rights groups in a list of possible terrorist organizations. President Kenyatta and the relevant authorities should take immediate and transparent steps to remove these human rights groups from this list.”
. . . .
Joint Statement by U.S. Ambassador Robert F. Godec, British High Commissioner Christian Turner, and Swiss Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud
The Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland welcome recent actions by the Kenyan Director of Public Prosecutions to combat corruption by ordering prosecutions in Kenya linked to the decade-old Anglo Leasing scandal. These orders and the subsequent arrests were important steps forward by the Government of Kenya in the critical fight against corruption. We encourage the government to build further on these actions, to include through independent and vigorous investigations of all allegations of corruption, and through fair trials and equal treatment under the law for all those charged.
The Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland will continue to work with the Government of Kenya as it seeks to tackle corruption and to build a democratic, secure, and prosperous future.
Continuing with my Jan. 2-3, 2008 e-mails reporting back to Joel Barkan in Washington from Nairobi:
When I reported the call [to me from Ranneberger] to Washington, Lorne eventually and reluctantly made the decision to scratch Bellamy (he was not told the truth to my chagrin). Lorne then called Asst. Sec. Frazer on his way to the airport to tell her to get her Ambassador in line, then when he landed in Thailand he called the Ambassador to tell him to stop interfering in our EO.
After the Ambassador first raised his objection to Bellamy a few days earlier we had research Bellamy’s record and found no problems and checked out the political perception in Kenya and also found no problems. Likewise, we had confirmed with the State Dept in Washington and confirmed that they had no issues with Bellamy being a delegate. Likewise, we had confirmed that USAID was not objecting (and that they acknowledged they had no right to).
In the meantime, I had gotten a call from the Embassy that next Friday afternoon to come to Ambassador’s residence to see him on Saturday afternoon. When I visit him, he in a fashion apologized for getting spun up with me, but reiterated that it was vital to the credibility of our whole delegation that Bellamy be struck because he was absolutely “perceived as anti-govenment”. Whether he intended to or not, he left me with the distinct impression that the “perception” had been conveyed straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak (one of the provisions in our international agreement covering EOM standards prohibits allowing a government or other party any ability to veto members of our delegations).
Further, the Ambassador told me that “people” were saying that Raila might lose Langata. He said that he would be personally observing the voting in Langata and wanted to take Connie with him for part of the day. He also said that he wanted to take Connie privately to meet with Stanley Murage before the election.
When I reported this to DC, needless to say alarm bells went off. We nixed letting Connie go off observing separately with the Ambassador and insisted that Connie would not be available for any off-schedule private meetings. Serious consideration was given to cancelling the EO and I think it would have been cancelled if I didn’t say that I thought that I could manage the situation here.
When I told Sheryl about the Murage gambit she audibly gasped on the other end of the phone but didn’t comment. She
Yesterday it was two explosions in the Nairobi’s crowded Gikomba market, one reportedly on a bus and another in a stall. Perhaps a dozen killed and 70 injured.
Two British companies loaded up roughly 400 tourists in Mombasa and flew them home early. U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec told the Associated Press that the American Embassy has increased security measures–more security personnel are being brought in and other staff reduced.
Since the Westgate attack in September, there have been a dozen of these bombings.
In the meantime, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta had directed to pay almost 💲17M to two sketchy entities for claims for financing bogus security acquisition contracts in the Anglo Leasing scam uncovered by John Githongo. After Githongo’s whistleblowing Kenyatta himself as leader of KANU as the official opposition identified the claims as bogus. Kenyatta now claims that the Attorney General dropped the ball and allowed these entities to successfully sue and take judgements in court in the UK. He has directed that payment be made to clear Kenya’s credit to undertake large new borrowings on through the “Eurobond” market. The Law Society of Kenya says that the Government is lying and did not lose in court but rather agreed to pay.
The UK and US criticized the corruption of Anglo Leasing back when it was revealed in 2005-06. Neither the whistleblowing, nor many millions of dollars spent on alleged “good governance” programs seem to have deflected the ultimate success of the scam. . . .
In the wake of the incomprehensible looting at Westgate, Ben Rawlence, Open Society fellow and former Human Rights Watch researcher has published a candid look at the context in “Kenya’s Somali Contradiction” at Project Syndicate:
. . . if the Kenyan government’s aim was, as it claimed, to destroy al-Shabaab, the intervention has been a spectacular failure . . . In fact, retaliation against the militant group was little more than a convenient excuse to launch the so-called Jubaland Initiative, a plan to protect Kenya’s security and economic interests by carving out a semi-autonomous client state . . .
. . . the United Nations monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea reported in July that Kenya’s Defense Forces have actually gone into business with al-Shabaab. . . . [T]he Kenyan state’s endemic corruption constantly undermines its policymakers’ goals. Indeed in Kismayu, Kenya’s officials have reverted to their default occupation — the pursuit of private profit. . . .
Going back to my time in Kenya during the 2007 presidential campaign, it is well to remember that the multimillion dollar Anglo Leasing scandal that was subject to John Githongo’s whistleblowing involved corrupt contracts that were to have provided for the purchase of passport security technology, a forensic lab, security vehicles and a Navy vessel, among more than a dozen national security procurements.
Ultimately the exposure of the scandal proved to be a huge missed opportunity for the U.S. and the international community as a whole to address a pervasively corrupt security apparatus that we have continued to help underwrite. While everyone was grateful for Githongo’s courage, we didn’t match it with courage of our own to take risks for reform and we ended up letting the Kenyan people rather than the Kibaki administration bear the burden. See my post “Part Five–Lessons from the Kenyan 2007 election and new FOIA cables”.
Unfortunately corruption does not fix itself.
It has been clear for many months that the IEBC’s procurement of BVR kits was irregular. It is now quite clear that even after Kenyan civil society called the IEBC on the carpet on that problem, the IEBC engaged in clear misconduct in buying the “poll book” system. When they were caught, the procurement was allowed to go through because of the limited amount of time before the election. The “poll book” book system largely failed and on election day polling stations used a wholly manual system–a printout on paper.
See the details on the fraudulent bidding here from the today’s Standard: “Minutes reveal how IEBC bought faulty gadgets”:
A review of the tendering procedure by the public procurement regulator found out the tender to supply poll books was awarded to the South African firm, which participated in the Anglo Leasing scandal, on September 29 last year, three weeks before the technical evaluation among the shortlisted bidders.
In other words, the bidding was a sham, because the “winner”, which never could produce a working system, was selected in advance, before the evaluation of which systems worked–and thus the working systems never had a real rather than a pretend opportunity to be selected over the non-working system.
Getting down into details, the failure of this key procurement left a situation in which much of the presumed value of the Biometric Voter Registration was lost because there was no ability to use any automated voter list at the polls. The use of the paper print out opens a big window for fraud because one would have to obtain and verify each of the individual print outs from more than 33,000 polling stations to know whether what was used on paper matched up with the central voter registration list in Nairobi (leaving aside the fact that the IEBC never finalized and published a uniform voter registration list as required, which makes the issue doubly important).
I have no way to know whether the IEBC was simply corrupt in its procurement practices resulting unintentionally in the failure of the poll book system, or whether there was some deliberate intent within the IEBC to avoid the application of the electronic system.
Assuming for the sake of argument that no one at the IEBC deliberately wanted to undermine the intended voting systems, it remains quite clear that the IEBC engaged in conduct that clearly violated the public trust in preparing for the election. So how can we simply trust the same body on the vote tally itself?
“Fight Corruption with Social Entrepreneurship”–award/grant competition from the Ashoka Foundation with Transparency International. Three awards of £5,000 pounds each are available to support innovative initiatives, with submissions due by October 1, 2012.
Speaking of corruption, news today from the United States about Bradley Birkenfeld, possible Anglo Leasing suspect/witness.
Who is Bradley Birkenfeld? Here is the link to the 2009 Mars Group post “The Bradley Birkenfeld Dossier: Amos Wako: Guess what? President Obama could solve Anglo Leasing and he has a suspect in custody.” After Birkenfeld was arrested in the U.S. in 2008, Kenya did request U.S. assistance with Birkenfeld for investigation of Anglo Leasing through a letter to Ambassador Ranneberger in March 2009. Beyond that the situation is typically muddy as to what has transpired.
Today, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service confirmed that it has paid Birkenfeld $104MM as his “whistleblower” share of recoveries from massive tax fraud at UBS in Switzerland. Here is the Washington Post story.
THE Swiss government has frozen three bank accounts associated with Anglo Leasing suspect Deepak Kamani and opened money laundering charges against him and two Britons.
“The Swiss government has delivered on the requests regarding the money trail of Anglo Leasing suspects as requested by the Kenya government. The Swiss authorities believe that it was a case of money laundering. They also believe that the suspects infringed on the laws of Switzerland. The accounts that have been frozen belong to three individuals. The individuals are among those who set up the financial structure,” said Swiss ambassador Jacques Pitteloud in Nairobi yesterday. The two Britons were not named.
An unconfirmed report says that Kamani-associated companies may have had US$160 million (Sh13.6 billion) in accounts in Geneva with HSBC, Schroders, UBS and Pictet. In 2009 US national Bradley Birkenfeld was sentenced to 40 months for helping clients hide their money in a multibillion dollar international tax fraud over Swiss private banking. Bradley was intimately connected with the Kamani brothers – Deepak and Rashmi – who controlled 13 of the Anglo Leasing companies whose accounts Bradley managed when he worked for UBS.
Bradley’s private residential address was listed as the office of Midlands Finance and Securities Ltd which received 36 irrevocable and negotiable promissory notes worth euros 49.6 million for a sham loan that Kenya never received as part of the Anglo Leasing scam. Bradley also signed one of the 18 Anglo Leasing contracts on behalf of Info Talent to computerise the police force at a cost of $59.7 million (Sh5.1 billion). . . .
So, as of today, Birkenfeld is out of prison but serving the remainder of his sentence for assisting clients evade taxes in home detention in New Hampshire. He has plenty of money. His lawyers say they will seek a presidential pardon. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for the governments of Kenya and the United States to cooperate on obtaining the details of the Anglo Leasing fraud from Birkenfeld and pursuing prosecutions and recovery of funds.