Kenya’s presidential election petition – it was clear IEBC did not follow the law, even before Supreme Court Registrar showed serious skulldugery with ICT

Discussing Kenyan elections can get tense, even among friends who are not Kenyans and try to be relatively dispassionately analytical. I have copied here one of my emails from an ongoing exchange in late August during the pendency of the Presidential Petition in the Supreme Court. My friend with whom I was corresponding is a Westerner who knows far more about Kenya (and lots of other relevant things) than I do and is someone I greatly respect (he is also a layman as far the legal profession goes). My friend was much more sanguine than I about the IEBC’s implementation and use of the KIEMS Results Transmission System, both in terms of facts and law. This explains how I saw things (and still do):

Uploading an alleged Form 34A offline after the election and reporting of results reflects a failure of the use of the RTS by its terms as consistently represented by IEBC and IFES until well after the election.

It is simply not the same thing at all in my opinion.

Even ELOGs sample in their PVT found 13.5% of Polling Stations did not publicly post Form 34A. If it wasn’t scanned and transmitted in real time, or at least scanned with delayed transmission upon being moved into a coverage area contemporaneously, and it also wasn’t publicly posted, then it cannot credibly treated as if it was reliable without explanation and evidence.

Your figure of 29,000 and the IEBC tweet claiming all but just over 1000 leaves a huge gap in a very short time period. (Further, I understand you to refer to some “backlog in uploading them” which apparently refers to something other than KIEMS transmission, so I am not sure at all that I am really understanding your argument.)

I also disagree with your characterization of “clear rules” of Kenyan election law implementing the Maina Kiai court decision against the IEBC. IFES advised to the contrary in their last pre-election publication on the process that I am aware of, the July 20 FAQ that also explained how KIEMS was to work.

People may have gambled that Chebukati could use the Court of Appeals ruling to announce on day 3 of 7 “final results” from most but not all alleged Form 34Bs without the 34As having been demonstrably transmitted to the Constituencies to generate the Form 34Bs. This tactic might very well win the Supreme Court of Kenya, legitimately or illegitimately, but I don’t find it persuasive myself, nor do I find that provides any justification for the assertive lack of basic transparency.

Kenyan lawyer Nelson Havi’s piece in The Elephant from about the same time gives a good summary of the issues in the Presidential Petition and the Petitiiners basic case: “KENYA ON TRIAL: Truth, Justice and the Supreme Court.”

Best overall international piece so far on Kenya Supreme Court decision

Lots of good journalism out today, but this story from Peter Fabricus in my evening Daily Maverick Weekend Thing strikes me as hitting many of the right notes: “Kenya’s courts step up to electoral plate.”

One of the most important lessons from today is how cowed Kenya’s media really is by the Government.  This decision did not have to come as quite such a suprise if Kenya’s media had felt free–or been brave enough–to just cover the polling stations and constituency tally centres.  But we went through this in 2007 (when results were broadcast then taken down), and 2013 when self-censorship was the order of the day.

Today, Kenya took a big step forward on the rule of law — a sign that perhaps the press can become in the future in fact as free as the Constitution provides and the West pretends.

For Kenyan must reads, start with Nanjala Nyabola, “Why I’m proud to be an African today,” at IRINnews.com.

Must read on election tensions in Kenya: “A Silent Panic”

ELECTION 2017: A Silent Panic in Kenya by Dauti Kahura in The Elephant.

A series of backstories of building tensions with the latest election approaching on the layers of accumulated grief and injustice.  This is the stuff you don’t hear if you don’t have a practiced ear to the ground in Kenya and may be glossed over in the usual discussion in foreign capitals and international press.  And material that is too topical for the traditional Kenyan media with political power at stake. 

Congratulations to The Elephant for “speaking truth to power”.

“The War for History” part nine: from FOIA, a readout of new Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s February 2008 meeting with John Negroponte

Sometimes a Freedom of Information Act response from the State Department is “like a box of chocolates”–one of my 2009 requests eventually turned up a readout of a visit on February 7, 2008 by Kalonzo Musyoka, appointed Vice President by Kibaki in January, with John Negroponte, then Condelezza Rice’s Deputy Secretary of State. You may remember that in January Jendayi Frazer, in Kenya as Assistant Secretary of State heading the Africa Bureau, had applied the label of “ethnic cleansing” to the post election violence, a term disowned by “Main State” back in Washington.

The Kalonzo-Negroponte meeting was the same day as U.S. Senate hearings on the Kenyan election, lobbying by ODM with IRI and Negroponte for release of the USAID/IRI exit poll and that evening’s announcement that IRI found the poll “invalid”. (My FOIA did not result in any documents regarding the ODM-Negroponte meeting.)

From my e-mail to Joel Barkan in 2012:

Kalonzo meeting with Negroponte was in Washington on Feb 7, 08–also included [Kenyan Ambassador] Ogego and a staffer from Kenyan embassy. He said power sharing would be a set back for democracy as Kibaki win was “evident” from review at ECK. Would be willing to step aside as VP for Raila, but the Kenyan people would not support it as it would be “undemocratic”. Kalonzo assured that the violence was now under control, but that the U.S. should continue to call it “ethnic cleansing”. According to Salim Lone interview in Standard back in December ’08 he and ODM delegation met with Negroponte that day to push for release of exit poll before meeting with IRI.

Kalonzo Duka

 

Political ‘wedding day’ in Nairobi

Ballot for President with the Nine Nominees
PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT FROM 2007

Today was the deadline for filing of pre-election agreements between and among Kenya’s political parties. No big surprises in terms of the basic shape of the Odinga-led versus the Kenyatta-led groupings. As this is a non-partisan blog, and I don’t vote in Kenya as an American, I will not be suggesting how Kenyans should vote or endorsing anyone, but I’ll share a few quick thoughts “from where I sit”.

The agreement of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to be Raila’s running mate seems to have come down to the wire, although it is a bit hard for me to see how this would be too much of a surprise to people paying close attention.

Ostensible ODM Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Raila’s running mate last time, joined Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA grouping at the last minute, but he has been out of ODM and on to UDF for a long time and has long been seen as the potential “compromise” candidate to substitute for Uhuru and/or Ruto in the event the Kenyan courts were to ultimately disqualify either or both of them due to the ICC cases or some related complication. It would be risky for Uhuru and Ruto not to have someone suitable in that role.

On the Odinga side, the new CORD grouping has picked up Charity Ngilu and NARC along with Kalonzo which means he has picked up both sides of a division within “Eastern” politics and added a woman of longstanding political stature. With both Kalonzo and Moses Wetangula, CORD has two former Foreign Ministers, with Kalonzo in particular having been around a long time in diplomatic circles. He is someone with whom those in foreign capitals who are concerned with Kenya’s stability as a perceived regional anchor will be used to and comfortable with.

Absent the ICC situation, Uhuru and Ruto would be potentially attractive to some in the West as representing the notion of a mini “grand coalition” appeasing the elite of the combatants in the violence related to land and political boundaries in the Rift Valley that has normally coincided with Kenyan elections post-Cold War and they will be well funded to try to sell that pitch irrespective of the pending charges. I have a hard time seeing them get any traction, but I have been wrong before.

No disrespect intended to the other candidates–another post for later. The whole thing will be fascinating to watch, but scary due to the real dangers.

Good piece in today’s Financial Times from Katrina Manson in Nairobi.

Key current events and questions in the Kenyan Presidential election

Waiting for the Hurricane Isaac to visit us here on the Gulf Coast I have been drafting a long post/essay on the potential impact on the Kenyan election of the outcome of the U.S. elections and corresponding with a friend who is getting ready to go to Kenya.

Before polishing that up, I wanted to catch up on the Kenyan presidential race itself.

Under the new Constitution we are seeing the first Kenyan election under a “run-off for majority” rather than a “first past the post” system. Under this new system, any candidate who dominates the Kikuyu vote is almost guaranteed a spot in a run-off as long as there is more than one other candidate of any significance at all in the first round.

For months the polls have continued to reflect a race dominated by Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. Odinga has a significant lead but less than an outright majority and Kenyatta has a large margin for second place, or the spot in a runoff as the prevailing Kikuyu, anti-Odinga or non-Luo alternative. Among claimants to be the choice of the Kikuyu/Central Province “old guard” establishment, Kenyatta alone shows strongly in the public opinion polls. In this regard the race has remained relatively stable for weeks.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka both have significant support, but do not rival Uhuru in the polling. MP William Ruto running as a fellow ICC “victim” and champion of Kalenjin Rift Valley interests is not getting much national traction and none of the alternative Kikuyu candidates has shown themselves as a threat in the polls so far.

Details of “parties” and alliances and alignments shift weekly if not daily, but the main specific potential “game changer” of the past few months seems to have remained the untimely death in a helicopter crash of Internal Security Minister George Saitoti. Saitoti, on one hand, could be seen as one more candidate among the pack with Kalonzo and Mudavadi–I would see him, however, as a much stronger contender against Uhuru specifically. If I had been advising Uhuru’s campaign (for the record I don’t know who he is using in this capacity outside Kenya this time) I would have been much more focused on Saitoti than the others.

Saitoti was a Kikuyu-speaker of mixed ethnicity representing a near-Nairobi Rift Valley district, with a strong background in the Moi administration, within which he had gotten rich. As Kibaki‘s Internal Security Minister he had a more substantive portfolio and was more of an insider than the Vice President. Kalonzo had run separately in 2007 under the ODM-Kenya splinter and did not publicly endorse Kibaki until after the election. He provided crucial service in the pinch to the Kibaki campaign in that role, but assuming the truth to what then-MP and Kalonzo associate Joe Khamisi wrote in his book The Politics of Betrayal–that Kalonzo cut a pre-election deal with Kibaki through Stanley Murage–it’s hard to see that he would have earned himself a lot of respect. And of course Mudavadi had been against Kibaki (and thus for Uhuru with Moi) in 2002, and then been a member of Raila’s Pentagon against Kibaki in 2007. So its difficult to see that simply abandoning Raila and ODM in 2012 would be enough to give Mudavadi a serious claim on Kibaki’s affections to the point of the President throwing him Uhuru’s base with Uhuru still in the race.

Saitoti, running under the same PNU (“Party of National Unity“) label under which Kibaki claimed re-election, seems to me to have been in a different category of potential even if he had not yet moved out in the polls. Another interesting factor for Saitoti would have been his role as Minister of Internal Security in dealing with the major outside players such as the Western powers and Museveni. PNU was a bit illusive in 2007 as some hybrid of “party”, “coalition” and “committee to re-elect the president”, but nonetheless elected a section of MPs in its own name. With Saitoti dead there have been purported “PNU” endorsements of Uhuru already.

Obviously the prospect of electing a new president of Kenya on the eve of his trial for crimes against humanity by the ICC is disturbing/offensive to Kenya’s ally the United States and the European powers and many of Kenya’s other friends. An article in the Daily Nation yesterday highlights the seemingly difficult spot that Kibaki is in with the competing claims to his support in the context of the ICC indictment against Uhuru.

Kibaki plays his cards close and I doubt most of us will ever know much of what he ends up doing in regard to the 2013 election. I would encourage interested observers to make sure to remember that the Kenyan administration hosted Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir–under indictment from the ICC and with well-established pariah status to celebrate the new Kenyan Constitution and inaugurate the “new era” two years ago.

As for Kalonzo and Mudavadi, assuming that Uhuru stays in the race they are potentially in a position of serving as important “placeholders” to assure Uhuru a spot in a run-off against Raila. But then in the run-off, would they stay lock-step in the anti-Raila position, or could they be peeled away? Obviously it would be very hard personally for Kalonzo to support Raila after 2007 but Mudavadi has supported Raila once. Would their first round voters follow them in a run-off regardless?

And of course the biggest question of all. The stakes are higher in the presidential race than in 2007. Will the IEBC come through with a credibly complete and accurate count of the votes and what will happen if not?

THE Book on Recent Kenyan Politics to Read in 2011

The Politics of Betrayal; Diary of a Kenyan Legislator by former journalist and MP Joe Khamisi was published early this year and made a big stir in Nairobi with portions being serialized in The Nation.  Khamisi is definitely not your average politician in that he got a journalism degree from the University of Maryland, worked for years as a journalist, and became managing director of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and worked in the foreign service before being elected to parliament from Bahari on the Coast in 2002.

Khamisi was part of the LDP, the Liberal Democratic Party, and in 2007 became an ODM-K insider with Kalonzo.  While there is inherent subjectivity in a political memoir from one particular actor, Khamisi’s background in journalism serves him well.  While I cannot vouch for his accounts of specific incidents that I do not have any direct knowledge of, and I do not necessarily agree with his perspective on some things and people, he seems to try to be fair and there is much that he writes that rings true to me from my own interactions and observations in the 2007 campaign.

From his chapter on “The Final Moments” of the 2007 race, at page 223:

It needs to be said at this point that Kalonzo’s appointment as Vice President was neither an afterthought by Kibaki, nor a patriotic move by Kalonzo to save the country from chaos.  It was not a miracle either.  It was a deliberate, calculated, and planned affair meant to stop the ODM from winning the presidency.  It was conceived, discussed and sealed more than two months before the elections.  It was purely a strategic political move; a sort of pre-election pact between two major political players.  It was s survival technique meant to save Kibaki and Kalonzo from possible humiliation.

In our secret discussions with Kibaki, we did not go beyond the issue of the Vice Presidency and the need for an alliance between ODM-Kenya and PNU.  We, for example, did not discuss the elections themselves; the mechanisms to be used to stop Raila; nor did we discuss whether part of that mechanism was to be the manipulation of the elections.  It appeared though that PNU insiders had a far wider plan, and the plan, whatever it was, was executed with the full connivance of the ECK .  What happened at the KICC tallying centre–even without thinking about who won or lost–lack transparency and appeared to be a serious case of collusion involving the ECK and officials at the highest levels of government.  It was not a coincidence that the lights went off at the very crucial moment when the results were about to be announced; nor was it necessary for the para-military units to intervene in what was purely an administrative matter.  The entire performance of ECK Chairman Kivuitu and some of the Commissioners was also suspect and without doubt contributed to the violence that followed.

Kibaki’s PNU seeks Government Control over Political Opinion Polls [Updated]

From the Star, “Ban Opinion Polls — PNU”:

President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity is now planning to control opinion polls. A team of PNU lawyers working with MPs Jamleck Kamau (Kigumo) and John Muthutho (Naivasha) are drafting a Bill to control opinion polls conducted by research companies and even media houses.

Kamau yesterday filed a party motion in Parliament calling for regulation of opinion polls. The Bill will create an Opinion Polls Control Board to regulate the conduct of surveys.

One clause under consideration is a requirement that the Board approves all questionnaires in advance and authorise results of surveys before they are released to the public. The Bill is intended to end political opinion polls altogether, according to inside sources.

Yesterday Kamau, the PNU vice chairman, confirmed the upcoming crackdown. “Mututho and I are working on a Bill that will put discipline and restore professionalism in the operations of research so far as opinion polls are concerned. This will be in the House in a matter of weeks,” said Kamau.

In April Synovate said that Prime Minister Raila Odinga was the preferred 2012 candidate was for 38% of Kenyans; Uhuru 18%, Kalonzo 13% and Ruto 8%. PNU politicians, including Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, have been criticising political opinion polls in recent months. Kalonzo accused research companies, especially the market leader Synovate, of doctoring opinion polls in favour of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

.  .  .  .

Yesterday the Managing Director of the Synovate Kenya George Waititu said that the research industry will suffer severely if the two MPs and the PNU succeeded in pushing government into regulating the industry. “This is actually war on the freedom of expression and an attempt by the two MPs to gag the media because it is the media that publishes those polls,” Waititu said.

He explained that opinion polls should be allowed to flourish as it allows citizens to express their opinions on matters relating to governance and other fundamental issues. “The proposed legislation will only introduce bureaucracies that will keep marketing research companies out of business,” he said.

Waititu said ethics and ‘push-polling’ were matters of concern, but government involvement will only undermine the democratic practices. Waititu said research companies in Kenya operate under the Market and Social Research Association that has rules governing their operations. Other researchers in Kenya include Infotrak, Consumer Insight and Strategic Research.

In the months before the 2007 election the Government proposed draconian regulation of the media.  Now, with elections coming again, there are those in power who seek control over polling.  No big surprise as long as it is appreciated how the last election went.

The performance and professionalism of the polling industry in Kenya compares quite favorably to that of Parliament and certainly of any Kenyan government regulatory authority I encountered.  As IRI director, I continued a successful relationship with Strategic and also used Synovate for a key pre-election poll.

In general terms, the development of polling in Kenya is a success story–and it is for that reason that it threatens politicians who want to have the unilateral power to tell the public, through a docile media, what “the facts on the ground” are.

[IRI played a role over a period of years in the development of polling, through its USAID funded survey program, including the exit polls in the 2002 election and the 2005 referendum.  This is part of why I was offended at the decision of IRI’s Washington office to denigrate the quality of the 2007 exit poll to justify not releasing it in January and February 2008.  IRI corrected itself in August 2008 and released the exit poll results at that time after they were released by the University of California, San Diego team in Washington.  Obviously a Government of Kenya “Control Board” would have made sure that the exit poll showing the opposition winning never saw the light of day.]

Update:  The Daily Nation, “MP’s plan to regulate opinion polls opposed”:

Synovate and Strategic Research demanded involvement in the drafting of a Bill on the polls should the Party of National Unity’s MPs go ahead with a motion that was filed in the House on Wednesday.

Mr George Waititu of Synovate and Mr Caesar Handa of Strategic Research termed the attempt by MPs Jamleck Kamau and John Mututho as a step backwards.

“We are operating in a political market in which there is a lot of information in the public domain. One would hate to go back to the dark days when only politicians could give out information,” said Mr Waititu.

Don’t Turn Back on the ICC for Kenya [Updated]

The Kibaki administration has obviously made some headway in the diplomatic effort to “defer” the ICC cases against “the Ocampo 6” suspects.  The endorsement of the African Union, although it should come as no real surprise, may help give cover to others looking for an excuse to duck facing up to issues of accountability for Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence.

The the tenor of discussions by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinburg with Kenyan politicians last week was reported differently in different media outlets.  I will hope that The Nation, which is ordinarily pretty reliable on those things that it is willing and able to report, has it right:

US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg while visiting Kenya said on Thursday that his government would not support the deferrals, especially if they were meant to protect the suspects.

“What is critical is to make sure accountability is achieved and impunity is avoided,” he said. Mr Steinberg said the UN Security Council had not communicated with the US as one of its permanent members on the AU’s deferrals request.

He added that because the ICC is the mechanism available and which Kenya submitted to, the US was in its full support.

“The US feels strongly that accountability is a critical element of making sure Kenya can move forward and deal with the past as well as build a strong future,” Mr Steinberg said in Nairobi.

News of the US position flies in the face of reports that the government is preparing for a second round of shuttle diplomacy that will take it to nations, some of which hold the key to the decision the country is seeking.

Let’s be clear  about the issue:  the point of this initiative by the Kenyan administration is to save the “Ocampo 6” from prosecution.  The decision to “go to the Hague” rather than institute a “local tribunal” was made long ago.  Only when Ocampo’s six suspects were named did the administration jump in and dispatch Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to other African leaders to court support at the AU to block the prosecution.

Likewise, let us be clear about the timing in regard to the implementation of the new Kenyan Constitution and the next Kenyan presidential election in 18 months.  The constitutional referendum went to the voters way behind the schedule anticipated in the 2008 “national accord” establishing the “Government of National Unity” and the “reform agenda”.  The establishment of a local tribunal to address the post-election violence was never dependent on or tied to the new constitution–bills to establish a local tribunal were submitted in Parliament and voted down, allegedly in favor of “going to the Hague”.  Now that the new Constitution has passed, the political establishment is dabbling with implementing it.  Nothing has happened yet that fundamentally changes the nature of the Kenyan justice system, and it will take months or years even if Kenya’s political leaders change their minds (or characters) and work at it seriously.  Look at the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which was also mooted as an alternative to prosecution for the post-election violence.

With the 2012 election 18 months away, it is simply too late for a new meaningful legal alternative to the ICC to try major players in crimes against humanity from the 2007 election.

The next step is apparently to lobby the UN Security Council to intervene to stop the ICC.

The current political elite in Kenya holds its status on a foundation of accumulated impunity.  Undermining this foundation involves change, inherently unpredictable, and risk.  A decision by the Security Council to politically interfere with the ICC process now to preserve that impunity for the Kenyan elite would strike me as a massive display of moral cowardice at a time when, if ever, we should all know better.

The polls have consistently shown that the great majority of the Kenyan people support the ICC process.  Most of Kenyan civil society is engaged to support justice.  This whole situation arose because members of the governing elite were not willing to trust the 2007 election to the people.  We need to stay the course on reform and the ICC now.

Gettleman reports on Somali TFG Child Soldiers–now what?

Jeffrey Gettleman’s Sunday NY Times story about child soldiers fighting on “our side” for the TFG is moving and has some “legs” in terms of popularity on the web site.

At the same time, it would appear that the U.S. administration through the Biden visit to Nairobi was intending to soften up and be more supportive of the Kenyan government because of the perceived threat to U.S. interests from Somalia. Certainly the message from the Kenyan V.P. Musyoka’s visit to Washington a few months ago was just that–the U.S. should let up in Kenya and support the Government in traditional Cold War/GWOT fashion as a bulwark against Somali and Somali-based terrorists. Jendayi Frazer herself said not long ago that Obama’s Somalia policy was substantially the same as Bush’s.

To me, the question we ought to ask is whether since the policy has been conspicuously unsuccessful in recent years we ought to do more of it because the problem is now worse, or whether we are open to adaptation.