“What’s going on in Kenya?”–Updated

Extremely interesting time, “isn’t it”?

Parliament is in an uproar about questions surrounding the deaths of Internal Security Minister Saitoti and Assistant Minister Joshua Ojode in a helicopter crash. Ironically, perhaps, at least one of those MPs raising questions about a drug-running connection has sparred with the U.S. in the recent past over accusations of his own involvement in such activity–but many others are raising questions, too. The ostensible investigation into the crash has obviously lagged in terms of any public information from the government.

From the Standard:

-Why did police fail to secure scene of crash?
– Why was Iteere first at scene but left shortly?
-Why was Saitoti family not briefed on probe team?
– Why did State frustrate South African experts till they left?
– Is there a possible drug-link to chopper crash?
-Is Kimunya’s ministry co-operating in probe?
– Shouldn’t Kimunya let someone else speak on behalf of Government?
-Why is State shifting positions on investigations?
-Why has State left a vacuum for speculation?
-Why should Iteere and Transport PS not step aside?

Lots of “buzz” in Kenya about continuing disclosures about drug-running and the Artur Brothers and such leading up to the 2007 election.

Police reform and land issues were understood by “everyone” to be crucial tasks for the “Government of National Unity” to get Kenya back on track after the failed election of 2007 and the ensuing violence, yet the Saitoti matter and drug controversies show how little has been accomplished or even attempted on the police front. (We have noted previously the fact that the land issues have remained unaddressed and ripe for more conflict.) When the Commissioner of the Police during the election, Ali, was pushed aside into the cushier, quieter role of Postmaster, in response to pressure from the U.S. among others, who replaced him but Iteere, the head during the election and post-election of the Kenyan police’s paramilitary General Services Unit (“GSU”)? In other words, the paramilitary forces in charge of securing Kibaki’s second term by, among other tasks, locking down the KICC for the announcement of the flawed election tally by Electoral Commission Chairman Kivuitu and keeping Uhuru Park in Nairobi free of demonstators while the parts of the Nairobi slums and the Rift Valley burned. How can Kenyans reasonably be expected to trust the police now?

Election campaigns are in full swing with the “2012 election” already pushed to March 2013, with questions about the ability to prepare on the part of the Government and on possible further delays for legal issues. Parliamentarians have openly sought to undermine key political reforms in the new constitution to continue to facilitate “party hopping” among other gambits to preserve themselves.

And now, the U.S. Ambassador has resigned, after an extremely low-key year on the ground. Obviously there is a back story. He was Obama’s personal choice and supposedly the post was held for him to become available after the Sudan referendum where he served as Obama’s envoy. The details may or may not matter, but regardless, it is crucial that the U.S. Administation step up to the plate in getting someone effective confirmed quickly to replace him. Confirmation hearings will be a chance for Congress to focus on Kenya before things get even messier.

For better or worse, Kenya has no greater friend internationally than the United States. It is time for some sense of urgency and focused determination from Washington. Kenya is worth paying attention to now rather than after it becomes the next crisis of the day.

UPDATE: “Why Gration Really Resigned” story from Molly Redden in The New Republic late this morning has unnamed former State Department officials indicating that a scathing report on Gration’s management style at Embassy will be released soon. Given that Africa Bureau management as a whole was heavily criticized in an IG review released shortly after the Obama Administration took office, it is especially surprising to see a new round of controversial management in the largest and most important U.S. Mission in the region.

U.S. Rachets Up Pressure on Kenyan “Drug Kingpins”

The White House released its designation of seven individuals, including two Kenyans, to Congress as appropriate for sanctions as “foreign drug kingpins”, including Kilome MP John Harun Mwau (Sultan Hamud, Eastern Province–on the way from Mombasa to Nairobi) and another Kenyan. This follows the delivery to Attorney General Wako earlier this year of a dossier supporting these charges.  So far, Kenyan authorities have indicated that they find no evidence on which to take legal action.

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
June 01, 2011

Letter from the President on the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act

June 1, 2011

Dear Mr. Chairman:  (Dear Madam Chairman:)
(Dear Representative:) (Dear Senator:)

This report to the Congress, under section 804(a) of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, 21 U.S.C. 1901-1908 (the “Kingpin Act”), transmits my designations of the following seven foreign individuals as appropriate for sanctions under the Kingpin Act and reports my direction of sanctions against them under the Act:

Manuel Torres Felix (Mexico)
Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza (Mexico)
Haji Lal Jan Ishaqzai (Afghanistan)
Kamchybek Asanbekovich Kolbayev (Kyrgyzstan)
John Harun Mwau (Kenya)
Naima Mohamed Nyakiniywa (Kenya)
Javier Antonio Calle Serna (Colombia)



Here is a link to “Narcotics:  What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions Against Drug Traffickers; an overview of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpins Designation Act . . .” published by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control:

The Kingpin Act blocks all property and interests in property,
subject to U.S. jurisdiction, owned or controlled by significant
foreign narcotics traffickers as identified by the President.  In
addition, the Kingpin Act blocks the property and interests in
property, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, of foreign persons
designated by the Secretary of Treasury, in consultation with the
Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, the
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the
Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State, who are found to
be: (1) materially assisting in, or providing financial or
technological support for or to, or providing goods or services in
support of, the international narcotics trafficking activities of
a person designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act;  (2) owned,
controlled, or directed by, or acting for or on behalf of, a person
designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act; or  (3)  playing a
significant role in international narcotics trafficking.

Mwau filed suit against outgoing U.S. Ambassador Ranneberger in the Kenyan High Court in April in response allegations raised against him by the U.S. late last year:

Mwau says the diplomat has made false allegations of drug trafficking, contract killings and money laundering to the police. The diplomat on December 7, 2010, filed a criminal complaint with the Minister for Internal Security Prof George Saitoti and had the same complaint delivered to the Police Commissioner.

Mwau states that he has never been involved and has never contemplated or even dreamed of being involved in trafficking narcotic drugs and does not know any person who sells, buys or consumes narcotics of any nature.

He says he was shocked when his name was announced by Prof Saitoti in Parliament on December 22, 2010, as one of the people named in Ranneberger’s dossier. Mwau says the dossier had contents meant and calculated to injure his dignity and reputation.

The contents of the dossier, he adds, alleged that he has been linked to contract killings against law enforcement officials and that he is linked to a tonne of cocaine consignment seized by Kenya Police in 2004. Ranneberger also alleged he (Mwau) was a close family member of Akasha family in Mombasa.