High level U.S. Delegation carries requests to Museveni on fair elections and Iran sanctions

Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, was joined by the acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Security Affairs and Non-proliferation, and by General “Kip” Ward, AFRICOM Commander, in meeting Wednesday with Ugandan President Museveni. According to the Daily Monitor the U.S. was requesting that Museveni agree to reconstitute the Ugandan Electoral Commission ahead of next year’s election and support a U.S. draft resolution on Iran sanctions with Uganda’s current vote on the UN Security Council.

Museveni rejected the request regarding the Electoral Commission. Inter-Party Cooperation (“IPC”), the grouping of four opposition parties, has said that it will boycott next year’s elections if the composition of the Electoral Commission is not reconfigured. No word on the answer on the U.N. sanctions vote but it doesn’t sound positive.

On the electoral issues, The New Vision reports:

Museveni advised the delegation and other foreigners, who are approached by the “opportunistic” opposition members about Uganda’s problems to always, offer them a cup of coffee and send them back because Uganda has structures that can solve its problems.

On international issues:

Museveni challenged Americans to give him concrete evidence that the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons and that they have refused to comply with the regulations.

On Somalia, the President said there was need to take tougher action against the terrorists and ensure a roadmap towards elections so that the Somali people recover their sovereignty from the gunmen.

Discussing the Sudan issue, the Americans assured Museveni of their commitment to full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Carson said they were preparing for the eventual outcome of the referendum expected to take place in April next year.

Carson’s immediate predecessor at the Africa Bureau, Jendayi Frazer, is with the Whitaker Group, the lobbyists for the Museveni government in Washington.

Kenyan PM Odinga Speaks Out on Election, “Dubious” Post-Election Role of Jendayi Frazer and Ambassador

We’ll stay on and fight for reforms: Raila from The Sunday Nation

The key quote:

Friends of Kenya played a major role in getting both sides to talk. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a key player. He called me at night and talked genuinely and passionately about developments happening in the country. He said he was willing to use his influence to facilitate negotiations. He also spoke to Mr Kibaki and relayed a similar message.

At that time, the US was playing a dubious role. The US Ambassador (Michael Ranneberger) was trying to manipulate diplomats in Nairobi. He was very quick to accept the results. (Then US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs) Jendayi Frazer also arrived and played a dubious and ambiguous role.

The British PM was more forthright and engaged genuinely.

On the election:

The election in 2007 will go down as a watershed in Kenya’s history because of the manner in which the vote tallying was manipulated. In the past, people had known that elections are manipulated. But that was before the era of Information Communication Technology and particularly before mobile phones became widely available. The mobile phone changed everything. It was now possible for results to be relayed instantly from every polling station in the country.

We in ODM had set up a very elaborate communication network and, by midday on December 28, we had a good idea what the results were. Media outlets were also announcing results directly from polling centres and the whole country could see what the result of the election was. There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of many Kenyans what the outcome of that election was.

Eventually, the tallying of the vote was manipulated at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. Kenyans only blame the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) but it was a far wider operation. ECK officials were heavily coerced by the state security apparatus, including the intelligence services, the police and especially the Administration Police.

This is the first time I have read of the PM speaking explicitly in this way on the record. Obviously Frazer is out of government and into the lobbying world with the firm representing Museveni, as well as her academic post, and Ranneberger’s tenure is winding down–perhaps this is intended to be a signal that the expectations for reform run both ways.

HT CK in Nairobi–had managed to miss this.

We don’t know who won poll, says envoy–Standard reports from 2nd Anniversary of “Power Sharing”

By David Ochami

The US Government has defended its quick recognition of President Kibaki’s controversial win of the disputed December 2007 presidential election.

However, US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger admitted that to date the US was not sure who won the election. Mr Ranneberger on Sunday said power sharing between ODM and PNU had not brought the desired dividend against impunity and corruption.

“The election was disputed. We did our best to get to the bottom of it. It is almost impossible to say who won,” he said.

The envoy spoke on the second anniversary of the signing of the National Accord and disputed perceptions that former Under Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer’s intervention at initial stages of the post-election crisis favoured Kibaki’s win.

Addressing the Press in Addis Ababa in 2008, Dr Frazer suggested that opposition supporters in Rift Valley were cleansing Kibaki’s tribesmen from the region. She later retracted the reference a few days after Ranneberger led the US’ recognition of Kibaki’s disputed win. As violence spiralled across the country, the US withdrew the recognition.

On Sunday, Ranneberger claimed Frazer’s statements and US recognition was forced by circumstances.

He said the US had little recourse after the Electoral Commission of Kenya declared Kibaki winner.

“We knew there was no possibility of a recount in the circumstances,” the envoy said, adding that after violence broke out, the US led foreign powers in calling for AU mediation and a negotiated settlement.

Two years later and the same ambassador giving similar answers to the same questions, about events from two years ago. I think it is fair to say that he hasn’t been particularly persuasive.

HT to DS in Nairobi

Friendly Fire? IRI Chairman McCain Labels Exit Polling as Pork!

Republican Senators McCain and Coburn have issued a purported list of 100 wasteful porkbarrel programs getting funding under federal stimulus legislation–one item targeted on the list is a little over $200,000 for exit polling in Africa by the University of California, San Diego. 

Is this just a political cheapshot at UCSD for publishing the results of the Kenyan exit poll from the 2007 general election and accompanying research? 

For this Kenyan exit poll, McCain’s International Republican Institute (“IRI”), for which I was Resident Director of the East Africa Office at the time, received funding from USAID, along with an extra $10,000 from Dr. Clark Gibson, chair of Political Science at UCSD.  The poll showed the challenger Raila Odinga soundly defeating the incumbent Mwai Kibaki.  When the Electoral Commission of Kenya announced that Kibaki had won amid disputes and allegations of fraud, the US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger initially called on Kenyans to accept the results and the Bush State Department initially congratulated Kibaki (later retracting), even though the Ambassador had received the preliminary exit poll results on the evening of the vote.

Dr. Gibson and his associate James Long designed the poll under a consulting agreement with IRI and Long supervised the field work of IRI’s Kenyan polling firm Strategic.  IRI maintained a six month “exclusive” on rights to publicity on the poll under the consulting agreement and refused to let UCSD or Strategic release or comment on the results.  IRI declined to comment on the poll and then began telling journalists and others in Washington that it was flawed, eventually issuing a statement on February 7, 2008 that it had determined the poll to be “invalid” after hearings that day of Senator Feingold’s Africa Foreign Relations Subcommittee in which Feingold called on Asst. Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer and the Asst. Administrator for USAID to explain why the poll had not been released as post-election violence and negotiations between the contestants continued.

After the expiration of the six month embargo, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) sponsored the release of the poll by UCSD on July 8.  Gibson and Long presented a detailed rebuttal to the alleged concerns raised by IRI.  The UCSD team also presented at SAIS at Johns Hopkins.  In August, more than a month later, on the day before Gibson and Long were to testify on the results of the poll before the Kreigler Commission in Nairobi, appointed to review the election under the February 28 power-sharing settlement, IRI released the poll, having found that it was valid after all. 

In the meantime, IRI continues exit polling all over on the taxpayer dime–and trumpets the “earned media” it gets for this from publications like the New York Times.  But apparently National Science Foundation funding for polling done by actual social scientists at UCSD outside the auspices of International Republican Institute is pork!

As Gibson and Long pointed out in their presentation of their research to the Working Group on African Political Economy last year, the US spends hundreds of millions on democracy promotion, but we don’t even know what motivates African voters.  Of course, if we don’t really always want to know HOW they vote, I guess maybe we don’t care why either?  And for that matter, maybe we don’t want to learn more about how effective that “democracy promotion” money is?

James Long worked tirelessly under pressure to help execute the Kenyan poll for IRI under difficult circumstances, and even provided substantial free assistance on IRI’s September 2007 pre-election poll (which was quickly released, by the way).  File this under the category of “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”.