True Colors–Kenyan Justice Minister calls on ICC to drop prosecution of Post-Election Violence

This strikes me as a classic “bait and switch” from the Kenyan political establishment to the international community.

Kenya’s Justice Minister says at this late date that because Kenya will be reforming its judicial and police systems under the newly passed Constitution, the ICC is no longer needed and should “keep off” as Kenya can now prosecute the post-election violence itself. I cannot imagine who would be expected to take this argument seriously. Certainly no one that has been paying any attention to Kenya for the past few years.

Presumably the real argument is that “because we have allowed Kenyans to pass this wonderful new Constitution–that you, international powers wanted more than we did–you owe us a pass on the post-election violence–just like you gave us a pass on the election fraud because we agreed to a “government of national unity”.

As with the election fraud, there is a real question here for the United States: how much do we want to know and when do we want to know it? The ICC is at best only going to try a tiny handful of suspects–most killers and their sponsors will not be directly touched. The ICC’s ability to gain convictions is not a foregone conclusion. Trials, however, would be public and would let the Kenyan public–and the international public–hear details of what happened. The United States has claimed to have quite a bit of information about the post-election violence. Presumably this is the case with the British and the other European players. To date, we have supported the ICC process lukewarmly as a substitute for the local tribunals that we preferred but the Kenyan leadership refused to approve. Where are we on this now?

From the Saturday Nation, “Mutula to Ocampo: Quit Kenya Probe”:

A Cabinet Minister has launched a controversial campaign to stop the International Criminal Court from investigating and prosecuting post-election violence suspects.

Lawyer Mutula Kilonzo, who holds the Justice portfolio, claims that trial sought by the ICC chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo after he completes investigations in the next few weeks will be unnecessary when Kenya establishes a new judiciary, appoints an inspector-general of police, and installs a new director of public prosecution under the new Constitution.

The minister, whose docket is crucial to obtaining justice for the victims of the violence that broke out after the 2007 General Election, argued: “When these (appointments) are in place, we can say that Kenyan judges meet the best international standards. After that, I can even tell them not to admit the ICC case. Why on earth should a Kenyan go to The Hague?”

Rwanda is voting–links

Rwandans rush to vote for president
The Daily Nation via AFP

“Rwanda votes for president amid crackdown” NPR

“Rwandans hit the polls in presidential election; Kagame favored to win” (you don’t say!) CNN

“Doubt rise in Rwanda as election is held” NY Times

“Kagame set to win in Rwandan election with large majority” The Guardian

“The Paul Kagame I know” Foreign Policy

What 21st Century Elections in Africa (or elsewhere) Can Be . . .

From Kui Kinyanjui in the Nairobi Business Daily:

The technological revolution in Kenya’s electoral process became abundantly clear as the final numbers came in from Wednesday’s referendum.

Analysts said the digital shift contributed to making the referendum a more transparent affair, with citizens emerging as a vital tool in ensuring the process remained free and fair.

The biggest beneficiary from the transformation is likely to be the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), that effectively received the mandate to fully digitise the elections process.

“We have learned that the use of technology has greatly enhanced the process and sped up the gathering of results,” said Isaak Hassan, IIEC Chairman.

More than 27,000 GPRS-enabled mobile phones were used to send results from polling stations to the main tallying centre at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.

“Using mobile phones, SMS and some software we got results securely checked into a central server, tallied and instantly relayed to the public … this is eGovernance without the usual big budgets and failure that often accompanies ICT projects,” said industry analyst John Walubengo, on an online forum.

In 2007, the ECK elected not to use the technology at the last minute, the votes for president were not reported honestly and chaos ensued. Congratulations to everyone involved in the Independent Interim Electoral Commission for showing how it can be done and delivering an election to be proud of.

Kenyans Vote (Updated)

UPDATE: Polls have closed at 5pm in Kenya, 10am Eastern in the US. See new Gettleman story “Kenyans vote on new constitution”.

Follow the voting and results through live updates with this Global Voices page as well as at Uchaguzi.

My sense going into the vote is that the constitution would pass by a good margin and the level of violence would be relatively lower than feared. Things do seem to be going smoothly so far. Violence in the past has either been state-supported or tied to the misconduct in counting the votes. With what seems to be a serious effort by the security services to work against violence this time, reflecting President Kibaki’s apparent commitment, the environment seems quite different for this vote.

See Gettleman in this morning’s NYTimes on the atmosphere in the Rift Valley prior to the voting, and this story from the BBC.

Kenya–All over but the voting?

This is a little girl in one of the areas affected by violence in the last election. Please pray for a peaceful and fair election. Thanks.

IMG_0514_1

Watch reporting on Uchagazi.

The Daily Nation reports “It’s all systems go for Kenya’s referendum” (Subliminal “Green”/”Yes” message there?)

The Economist also has a late take on tomorrow’s vote: Kenya’s constitutional referendum: a chance to improve how Kenya is run

At the end of the day, they wisely conclude, much work remains:

Even if the constitution is endorsed by a fat majority, the dangers that have afflicted Kenya will not evaporate. There has been a lot of talk about peace. But the power-sharing government formed after the violence of early 2008 by President Kibaki and his rival, Mr Odinga, has dismally failed to address the main causes of instability: a lack of land and jobs. Far too many young men have no chance of getting their hands on either, especially in the volatile and tribally mixed Rift Valley and in the teeming, fetid slums of Nairobi. Many Kenyans fear that the anger of such people could boil over again in 2012.

A comment worth quoting:

Whatever the outcome in the plebiscite, we must put in place better mechanisms to hold leaders to account and stop this abuse and impunity. Leadership connotes serving as a faithfully fiduciary and finding the best solution to intractable challenges the nation faces. Good leaders are not necessarily those who brandish the sharpest intellect, or possess the most alluring visage, but those who, through determination, ingenuity and wise counsel, achieve the aims of the nation. These qualities are severely wanting in Kenyan leaders if the misery that bedevils the nation five decades after independence is considered.

We all know that even with a very good constitution, if we have poor leaders and people are not vigilant in holding them to account, Kenya will not make progress. What we need is a good constitution coupled with good leaders keen on fighting corruption, curbing negative ethnicity, appointing officials on merit and improving efficiency in the bureaucracy. We need a leadership that will abandon slogans and platitudes and work hard to lift the millions of people in want out of poverty.

Kenya’s Referendum–Uchaguzi platform for citizen monitoring is up

Uchaguzi

Uchaguzi is a technology platform that allows citizens and civil society to monitor and report incidences around the electoral process.

Uchaguzi provides web and mobile-based channels for citizens and civil society to report on electoral offences such as intimidation, hate speech, vote buying, polling clerk bias, voting mis-information etc. The reports are then sent to the electoral authorities or security personnel for action.

Uchaguzi recognizes the need for empowering citizens in the protection of democracy by inspiring individual and collective action in enforcing transparency, accountability and efficient electoral service delivery.

Here is the BBC World Service on security preparations.

Somaliland: Gracious outgoing President Riyale to stay on as leader of UDUB in loyal opposition

HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — The outgoing president Dahir Riyale Kahin, UDUB party leader, said he will stay in Somaliland politics as an opposition while speaking to BBC Somali-Service on Friday night.

Mr. Riyale who gracefully accepted the out come of the election said he will step down in accordance with Somaliland’s legal system and urged Somaliland public to work with the new leader and maintain their stability.

A statement issued on government website said: Somaliland president H.E Dahir Rayaale Kahin and vice president Ahmed Yassin sent congratulatory messages to the president elect Ahmed Mohammed Mohammed and vice president Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail.The president thanked the people of Somaliland for their support and urged them to work with the incoming government and continue to support the stability and security of Somaliland.

“I congratulate President Ahmed Mohammed Silaanyo and his Kulmiye party for winning the presidential election,” he said.

Mr. Riyale who takes great pride for his years in power said he will not harm the democracy his very own party and leadership has created in the country. He added the election was a “friendly match” but Somaliland’s interest always comes first.

Full Story here.

Vote Count News from Somaliland

The party of President Riyale Kahin, UDUB, has called for a delay in announcing election results due to “huge irregularities“. Since then, a new AFP report this morning carries a statement from the President that he will step down if he loses the vote.

Thus much weight rests on the shoulders of the National Election Commission to maintain credibility and independence. It has been a long, hard and contentious process over a period of years to get to this point in terms of the composition of the NEC and the creation of a voter registration system from scratch in a “new” and unrecognized country with uncertain borders and much of its population nomadic.

We know from Kenya that a peaceful transition of power requires not only a willingness to step down by a leader who loses the vote, but also either a willingness by the leader to lose the vote in the first place or an independent election commission. In Kenya neither of the latter two conditions were met at the end of the day.

The President’s elective term in office ended as I was ending my term of service with IRI and we were opening our new office in Hargeisa. The serial delays and extensions have extended the time in office and it may be that we will now see a lot more about whether this truly reflected the best efforts to get the process right or as some critics suggested were more motivated by a wish to stay without a new decision by voters. It is encouraging that the President has made this new personal statement, which is certainly something that did not happen in Kenya during the vote counting. Although it has been awhile now since I have been there personally, I did feel that my colleagues and I had cordial working relationships with the leadership of all three parties and I would be personally optimistic about the sincerity of my friends in UDUB in making wise choices in a difficult time, serving the interests of the country as first priority–something we are all called to do to have a democracy.

Somaliland Election status

From the Somaliland Press, positive news and photos of the voting in progress, now that it is closing time at the polls.

Progressio will issue a preliminary statement as the international observation coordinator tomorrow on how things are going so far at that time.

Somaliland Elections and Oil in Mississippi Sound

Best wishes to all in Somaliland on Saturday’s long awaited presidential election.

Oil from the BP blowout is now finally entering the Mississippi Sound for the first time, so we can now expect to be seeing here more of what has been happening in Louisiana, and to a lesser extent Alabama and Florida.

There are those who anxiously await an opportunity to drill off Somaliland.  Oil has been the basis for the economy in Louisiana but it has threatened the physical future of a large chunk of the state, as well as the social and cultural heritage, and the wildlife and environment.  Definitely a situation that demands good governance.  Perhaps in the age of globalization, people can learn from our mistakes.