Kenya in 2012–More institutions, more institutional dysfunction; Uganda in 2012–Specializing in regional military role

Yet again, we have a major list of political appointments from President Kibaki announced, apparently unilaterally, with Prime Minister Odinga objecting that he was not consulted.  In this case “county administrators” for the 47 counties — new units of government under the new Constitution.  The President’s office identifies the job description of these new officials as, among other things, coordinating security, presumably including the upcoming elections when the first county governors are to be elected:

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has rejected President Kibaki’s appointment of 47 county commissioners, saying he was not consulted.

He also wondered what their job would be since the Constitution says it’s governors who will be running counties.

The Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) said the appointments should be done afresh because the President did not follow the spirit of the law in making them.

Five Orange Democratic Movement Cabinet ministers have also opposed the selection, many arguing that they were not fair to all tribes.

On Sunday, Mr Odinga’s spokesman, Mr Dennis Onyango, said: “The PM says he was not consulted. He also does not understand what their specific roles are because the Constitution says that governors will be in charge of the counties. He feels their appointment is a recipe for chaos in the counties,” Mr Onyango stated.

While making the appointments on Friday, State House explained that they were in line with Section 17 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The sections says: “Within five years after the effective date, the national government shall restructure the system of administration commonly known as the provincial administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under this Constitution.”

The county commissioners will coordinate security, national government functions and delivery of services, according to the announcement from the President Press Service (PPS).

.  .  .  .

President Kibaki has now come out more personally in advance of ICC pre-trial proceedings scheduled next month in the Hague to try another “Hail Mary” to get the post-election violence cases from the last election pulled away from the ICC by constituting a new international crime jurisdiction in a fledgling East African regional court that has no such authority now.

“Has our new Constitution already failed us?” Muthoni Wanyeki in The East African:

.  .  .  .

Going by the behaviour of our politicians as they swing into the campaigns, our new Constitution has already failed us. The idea was that diminishing executive powers, restoring separation of powers and instituting devolution would lessen the intensity of the scramble for the presidency. Well it hasn’t. It is still do-or-die.

Democracy everywhere is an ideal, rather than a reality. And devolution has done nothing yet other than take the battle for the executive spoils of devolution down to the community level all across the country. And create a new battle, for retention of executive spoils, at the centre.

It is hard not to be pessimistic. But it is vital to not get hot and bothered about the electoral farce; we need instead to work to ensure the fallout every five years is not of the 2007 and 2008 variety. This is where the intentions and plans of our security services matter. And this is where the love-hate relationships between all the would-be pilots matter as well. How they group in formation is critical. It tells us who’s in and who’s out — and who among us is likely to be targeted this time round.

In this sense, all the movements away from ODM could, potentially, be worrying. If Raila Odinga is painted as the “enemy” and that portrait extends to his entire ethnicity, we know where to look for the fire next time. We are meant to have an early warning system now. Is it working?

Meanwhile, in Uganda, hope for a “deeper” democracy continue to become more distant in the short run at least, but the Ugandan military continues to grow into a role as a regional force for multinational missions:

U.S. trains African soldiers for Somalia mission, form the Washington Post:

KAKOLA, Uganda — The heart of the Obama administration’s strategy for fighting al-Qaeda militants in Somalia can be found next to a cow pasture here, a thousand miles from the front lines.

Under the gaze of American instructors, gangly Ugandan recruits are taught to carry rifles, dodge roadside bombs and avoid shooting one another by accident. In one obstacle course dubbed “Little Mogadishu,” the Ugandans learn the basics of urban warfare as they patrol a mock city block of tumble-down buildings and rusty shipping containers designed to resemble the battered and dangerous Somali capital. . . .

“Hundreds of Somali’s Complete Military Training” reports IRIN:

IBANDA, 14 May 2012 (IRIN) – Over 600 Somali troops completed six months of military training in southwestern Uganda on 10 May and are heading home to boost the forces fighting Al Shabab.

Col Winston Byaruhanga, head of Bihanga military training school in Ibanda District, told IRIN the 603 soldiers who trained alongside 248 Ugandans will help bring peace and stability to the country.

“These soldiers will significantly reinforce the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and contribute to more stable conditions to deliver aid and bring the country on the way to development,” Byaruhanga told IRIN.  .  .  .

Kenya: Today’s Presidential Announcement of Tullow Oil Drilling Find in Turkana (several weeks ago) Coincides with News of Major Cabinet Shakeup

“Kenya Strikes Oil in Turkana”, Capital FM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – After years of prospecting, Kenya has finally made a breakthrough by striking oil in Turkana County in the north, with focus now shifting to exploring its commercial viability.

The discovery of the light, waxy oil was made in a half-way drilled Ngamia-1 exploration well, raising expectations that there could be huge reserves once the total depth of 2,700 metres is reached.

“The well has been drilled to an initial depth of 1,041 metres and it will continue to a total depth of about 2,700 metres to explore for deeper potential in this prospect,” Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said at a press briefing.

President Mwai Kibaki was the first to break the news earlier in the day. . . . .

The Nation’s “Big Story” is on the Cabinet.

The reshuffle seems hugely consequential in Kenya’s election year politics:  it certainly appears that Kibaki has made a large gesture toward realigning the Cabinet toward the “G7 Alliance” which has lingered as both the primary political vehicle to advocate for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto against the ICC and most visible successor to much of the PNU apparatus from 2007-08.

The most prominent moves as explained by “A Political Kenya 2012”:

Eugene Wamalwa – Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs
– Biggest winner as the docket will promote him to the senior most politician in Western province and probably check Musalia Mudavadi’s rising star
– He is an Ocampo 4 sympathiser
– Was once linked to president Kibaki’s son (Jimmy Kibaki) 2012 campaign as his prefered presidential candidate.
– Also seen as a compromise candidate for the G7 alliance
Mutula Kilonzo – Minister of Education
– Demotion from Minister for Justice Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs despite having delivered a new constitution which many previous justice ministers failed to do
– Punished for being an ardent Ocampo 4 Critic and for not toeing the ODM Kenya line

Also, Moses Wetangala has been demoted from Foreign Affairs to Trade (just after finally getting out of Bamako following the Malian coup).  This would seem to tie in to advancing Eugene Wamalwa as Luhya political leader in Western Province to the detriment of Deputy PM and announced ODM candidate Musalia Mudavidi.  On the ODM side, Najib Balala is the only Minister completely sacked, losing Tourism.  The Coast figure has been at odds with Raila Odinga for much of Kibaki’s second term in and openly expressed “seller’s remorse” for supporting Raila irrespective of his status as a member of the “Pentagon” from the 2007 campaign.

And no change in status for Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as he continues to fight the prospect of facing ICC trial and to rally ethnic support in Central Province.

The political establishment in Kenya will not be easily moved in the 2012 elections, now most likely ending up to be in 2013 through a complicated series of legal wickets for which no one has claimed responsibility and for which there is no obvious popular support.  I hope it is finally dawning of any doubters that the Government of Kenya as an institution is quite mobilized on balance to try to stop the ICC, as it has been–and not in favor of any substitute local justice mechanism.

The political stakes continue to rise and the prospect of oil money on the near term horizon if anything raises them more.  If nothing else, there will be a lot of pressure to do oil deals for campaign funding.

Kenya’s Speaker Marende Makes Key Ruling that Kibaki Nominations for Chief Justice and Attorney General Do Not Meet Constitutional Requirement

With Marende’s eventual determination that Kibaki must further consult his coalition partner, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the effort to circumvent the potential ICC prosecutions for post election crimes against humanity has met a setback. Marende has once again proven to be Kenya’s indispensable governmental authority in the absence of a will or ability of the coalition “principals” to act in concert.

Breaking: Kenyan High Court Blocks Kibaki on Unilateral Appointment of New Chief Justice, AG

Daily Nation “Court says Kibaki nominees illegal”

The High Court has declared that President Kibaki breached the Constitution when he selected four nominees for justice and budget office jobs.

Making the ruling, Justice Daniel Musinga also ordered that no no State organ should proceed with the process which sought to name a Chief Justice, an Attorney General, a Director of Public Prosecutions, and a Controller of Budget.

President Kibaki nominated Mr Alnashir Visram as CJ, Prof Githu Muigai as Attorney General, Mr Kioko Kilukumi for DPP and William Kirwa as controller of budget.

Eight non-governmental organisations had gone to court seeking to restrain any organ of state from carrying on with the process of approval and eventual appointment.


Follow the LiveText of Speaker Marende’s ruling in Parliament on whether to consider the Kibaki nominees.

He apparently will not issue a summary ruling, but the matter will be considered in committee.

After a successful constitutional referendum campaign, we seem to have reached the biggest crisis yet in the “grand coalition”.

A year of “AfriCommons”–what’s changed and what has not

I have been at this blog a year last week, so it is probably a good time to reflect a bit. This is probably best done off line, but I’ll take a quick start at sharing some impressions. I have a lot of partially drafted or mostly drafted posts that have been set aside in the course of keeping up with breaking developments, with my time constraints as an amateur, so I’ll go ahead and fire this off a week late rather than refine it further.

The biggest development for Kenya in the past year was been the passage of the new constitution, without doubt. Most of the impact remains an expectancy, as the old political order and a new legal order crunch against each other.

This week we are seeing the limitations of the old order “coalition”, “power sharing” or “unity” government model in the face of the possible ICC indictments for crimes against humanity related to alleged leadership roles of the six suspects named by Luis Moreno-Ocampo. To the degree to which there is unity or commonality among the various players in the government, it is at a “least common denominator” level when it comes to imposing accountability–the one thing agreed on is that leading political figures should not be accountable. Things are getting ugly as it becomes quite clear that the idea of cooperating with the ICC was never a serious consensus commitment and the failure to establish a local tribunal or otherwise pursue prosecutions for the post election violence (or vote fraud) was not based on a belief that the ICC was a better route to justice.

Likewise we see that the old Government of National Unity is not prepared to act responsibly in moving forward in implementing the new constitution, presenting challenges and dangers as we look ahead to 2012.

Outside of politics, Kenyans have revived their economy and are moving ahead in spite of the baggage of the political system.

On balance, while the existing government continues to be overripe, I am more encouraged about the intermediate future for Kenyans than I was a year ago.

From the U.S. standpoint, the Wikileaks fiasco is superficially the biggest new thing and is going to dampen a lot of holidays for our public servants I am sure, but I am hopeful that things at least will not get worse. Our overall international reputation will get better as we do better, and I suspect that on balance people around the world will be left with a general impression no worse than whatever it was beforehand. To the extent that our policies are known, I agree with most of what my country does most of the time, but like any citizen of a democracy have my dissents. I personally don’t get to read any of the leaked classified documents because I have, for extraneous reasons, a clearance that would let me read them if I had a “need to know”–thus I am at a disadvantage to other readers of the international newspapers.

Kenya v2.0 or 1.3?

A week after the big party, several thoughts on where Kenya stands with the new constitution.

First, I do think the successful referendum and passage of the new constitution is consequential in itself. Kenyans got to make up their minds, go vote, and their votes counted. This process can work in Kenya.

In this sense, the Government of National Unity has carried out one of the core functions under the original post-election agreement from 2008 and compared to how things looked in December of last year when I started this blog, the GNU has made a better account of itself not so much for affirmative acts, but for letting the process established work.

These things said, the Constitution provides an outline of the “functionalities” needed for a “Second Republic”–writing working “code” to execute these in practice is the work at hand.

While the passage of the Constitution itself is a long-awaited breakthrough, I did chose to quote in my “historic day” post from the Standard article noting the highest expectations since the election of the NARC ticket in 2002 with full appreciation for the cautionary tale to be had from looking at how those expectations were dashed. Right now the new Constitution is a milestone; what else it will be is to be determined.

A new Republic with require people as well as systems. Right now, we have in Kenya the same people in political power. Their judgment is reflected in the how they managed to taint the celebration of the accomplishment of the country in passing the new Constitution. Apparently the thinking went like this: “We are having a picnic. What is a picnic without a skunk? Let’s invite Bashir!”

A Good Rundown of the Current Kenyan Stalemate

From Daniel Howden of The Independent:  “The Big Question: What’s gone wrong in Kenya, and is the peace deal unravelling?”

From the Daily Nation: “How Kibaki, Raila row started”; and “What if Raila walks out of alliance?”

“How Kenyan Politics is Shaping Uganda Election Campaign”

New Standard item on linkages between Kenyan and Ugandan parties/factions.  This has a lot of potential to contribute to indirection and lack of transparency in both countries, with lots of extraneous interests–and one more thing to distract Kenyan politicians from getting anything done in the Government of National Unity in the meantime.