The Somaliland Sun reports that the Government of Somaliland has informed the visiting head of the new United Nations Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) that Somaliland will not host a UNSOM office. Somaliland wishes to continue hosting and receiving aid through various individual UN agencies and organizations but considers the overall UNSOM mission in support of the Federal Government of Somalia incompatible with Somaliland’s independent status.
In the meantime, the questions of governance for Kismayo and the “Jubaland” region remain an immediate challenge as does the unsettled Somaliland-Puntland border. Somaliland has indicated a desire to strengthen relations with Kenya, which shares a common interest in some degree of regional autonomy for Jubaland on the Kenyan border.
I didn’t make the trip to Washington for this event, in part because I don’t think the event should have taken place until after, at a minimum, the election results were released, if not other basic information we have all been waiting for. I did watch on-line. Here is my take:
My impression was that the objective of this event was indicated by the introduction and the conclusion. These were extravagant conclusory statements from IFES CEO Bill Press about what a great success the Kenyan election was and what a great job the IEBC and its chairman did (and by implication of course IFES). Otherwise, there was just nothing new here. IFES’s Country Director Michael Yard gave a sober reminder of all the many things associated with basic electoral reform, like campaign finance laws, gender balance,etc. that remain undone–as he cautioned back in April 2012 with Hassan in Washington about the challenges of trying to do too much in too little time in introducing technology. The Washington triumphalism is “tone from the top” stuff that I haven’t heard from Yard or anyone else at IFES and I don’t doubt that everyone involved in actually working on the programs in Kenya did their best to avoid the kind of mess that actually came to pass.
From Press’ argument, the reason this was all a great success–end of story–without even having results released three months later, is that “Kenya didn’t burn.” If I were a Kenyan I would be a bit offended by that. First of all “Kenya” didn’t “burn” last time–there was major violence in some places, including arson by militias, major sponsors of which, based on the confirmed ICC charges, got together this time. Kenyans of all tribes and persuasions were chastened by the post-election violence last time. Because of the experience, religious and community groups, civil society and the international community invested heavily in peacebuilding and conflict warning and resolution approaches. Threat of further ICC prosecutions hung over the key political actors that used violence last time. Thanks to a ruling by Speaker Kenneth Marende in Parliament and the High Court at the time, after passage of the new constitution in 2010, a new Chief Justice was appointed who was acceptable to the opposition as well as to the President, giving the opposition some hope in going to court after the IEBC ruling that the Uhuruto ticket had reached 50.07%. The Government of Kenya heavily deployed military, paramilitary and police force, especially in areas most supportive of the opposition, and the new Inspector General (chief) of police announced a ban of political assembly and peaceful protest, irrespective of the constitution–while gangs patrolled many of the slum areas. The biggest number of people killed last time were shot by the police, as reported by the Waki Commission. Last time the shoot to kill policy was unexpected; this time it was understood in advance. People stayed home after voting for many reasons that do not constitute an endorsement of the work and conduct of the IEBC.
Saying that the IEBC did a “great job” because “Kenya didn’t burn” is part of what I mean about having lower standards for elections in Africa–sorry if it’s impolite to notice.
The obvious question, of course, is that if Kenya not “burning” warrants so much public chest beating this time, should we include public discussion of “lessons learned” or any accounting or apologies for last time when so many people were killed and maimed?
Meanwhile back in Nairobi, the election results are being missed.
“If indeed the IEBC conducted a free and fair poll, why is it delaying the computation of the election results three months later? They should announce so that we know what TNA, ODM, Wiper among other parties got,” Raila told the crowd at the Kabiro Primary School.
The Supreme Court on April 9 upheld the IEBC declaration of Uhuru as the winner after Raila’s Cord challenged the outcome of the presidential election.
The court ruled that the process was within the law and that Uhuru had been validly elected as the president.
Raila’s sentiments come against the backdrop of divisions within the IEBC over the computation of the results. An IEBC commissioner, who did not want his identity revealed, told the Star that the final figure was to be released before the end of last week but the disagreement among them had caused the delay.
The figures, according to the commissioner, were to be finalised before presentation of budget estimates to the parliamentary committee.
Whereas some commissioners want the the process finalised, others want the section of the Political Parties’ Act providing for the computation of results amended to give the commission more time. Those pushing for the amendment want the parties to share the monies on the basis of their representation in the Parliament and the county assemblies.
According to the commissioner, the variation of the results between the presidential and other positions was “irreconcilable”.
“The IEBC was to release the results before the end of the week but the huge variation between the presidential results announced on the 9th of March this year and the other positions combined is the source of the headache,” the source said.
The article included some observations on the work of the Election Observation Missions from interviews in Nairobi with yours truly as an independent consultant and responses and comments from others. Here is one example:
The EU and the Commonwealth missions are also known for their independence and diplomacy, but others—particularly groups representing intergovernmental bodies—are less critical and independent, according to Mr Flottman. The AU mission had 69 observers and visited 400 polling stations throughout the country. The IGAD/ EAC/COMESA coalition deployed 55 observers to this year’s election.
Kenya is a member of the AU, IGAD, the EAC and COMESA, and they share geopolitical interests. Mr Flottman emphasised that observer missions representing the regional groupings are unlikely “to challenge any position of government”. For instance, the IGAD coalition mission declared the party nominations stage a success, Mr Flottman said. “They said the primaries were good. This is a nonsense statement. No one said that, come on.”
“Observer missions from the AU, SADC [Southern African Development Community], EAC, ECOWAS [Economic Community Of West African States]…because they are intergovernmental bodies, there is the ‘you rub my back, I’ll rub yours’ approach to certifying elections,” EISA’s Mr Owuor said, supporting Mr Flottman’s view. “In other words they were not very critical in an effort not to offend the current government.”
EUROPEAN Union election observers have said that the March 4 general elections in Kenya were “overally successful, free and fair” despite reported flaws.
They have however said the processing of the final results by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission “lacked the necessary transparency as party agents and election observers were not given adequate access to the tallying centres”.
Speaking yesterday in Nairobi while releasing the final report, EU elections observation mission chief observer Alojz Peterle said there are several lessons from the difficulties that arose during the process.
. . . There are certainly sometimes questions about the conduct of outside observers.
Elections in Kenya unfortunately often provide a case in point and the latest is no exception. The EU monitors have been dragging their feet, with their final report now overdue. EU observer mission spokesman, Peter Visnovitz, reportedly promised the report would be made public by 4 May, but we are still waiting. Furthermore, in its initial press release (before the counting was complete), the EU was positive despite noting that the biometric voting process disenfranchised more than 3 million voters.
Why is the EU taking so long for its final assessment? The Kenyan Starclaims that an internal report revealed strong reservations about the processing of the results. Meanwhile, the International Crisis Group (ICG) noted numerous problems and criticised the swiftness with which international observer groups pronounced all well in Kenya’s vote.
Earlier commotion around international observers in Kenya includes their muted response to the problems in the 1992 election; the mission was eager to send positive signals to calm fears of upheavals and resume aid. Their conduct in Kenya’s 2007 election also drew criticism from the UN Independent Review Commission; the body reported that monitors had at times based their claims on misunderstandings.
Time for an African solution?
International observers are clearly not perfect. But the final part of Obasanjo’s argument – that cure for the problem is for African monitoring groups to take over from international missions – rests on equally shaky grounds.
It is true that African groups have become more active. The AU, SADC, ECOWAS, and the electoral Institute of South Africa (EISA), among others, all now feature election observer missions. The AU started as far back as 1989, and the other groups have joined in the last 10 years or so.
That, however, is where the argument stalls. By and large, these groups are not ready to take over as the sole option for election observation on the continent. They have limited resources and experience, their sponsors or member-states are often not particularly democratic themselves, and most importantly, because these organisations are even more embroiled in politics on the continent, they are often more biased than non-African observers.
Acting Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u has been summoned by the National Assembly Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. The committee wants to find out why she is holding two offices, the management of party affairs and budget allocation.
As the acting registrar, Ndung’u is yet to take the oath of office because her term expired with the coming into force of the Political Parties Act in late 2011. . . .
. . . .
Chepkonga also wondered how the registrar will distribute parties’ funds when the IEBC had not computed the March 4 election results. In the financial year 2013/14, the office of registrar of political parties has been allocated Sh344,650,758 by the National Treasury. But the House will have the final say in approving the expenditure.
The Act provides that ninety five per cent of this fund be shared proportionately by reference to the total number of votes secured by each political party in the preceding general election. Five per cent is left for administration purposes.
In effecting the 95 percent, the total number of votes secured by a political party shall be computed by adding the total number of votes obtained in the preceding general election by a political party in the election for the President, MPs, County Governors and members of county assemblies.
“These are some of the things we will be seeking explanations a committee. The management of public finances must be open,” Chepkonga said. William Cheptumo (Baringo North), who is also a member of the legal committee, said parties want to know the number of votes they got.
“Am also wondering why they have taken too long to compile the number of votes per political party,” he said. Ndungu is also said to be interested in retaining her position as the registrar once a new process has been initiated.
Ndungu is also said to be interested in reapplying for the job once a new process has been initiated. However, a number of MPs vowed to ensure that she doesn’t get the job. “She has been the stumbling block to party discipline in the country. We will ensure the motion is defeated,” an MP who declined to be mentioned said.
The Star reported this week that the “IEBC wants political parties act amended“. From the headline one would expect to read perhaps an article on some type of reform arising out of the failed primary elections early this year, or the problem with “party hopping” . . .
But of course, it would be silly to think that the IEBC would concern itself with such things to improve accountability in the Kenyan electoral system.
No, the IEBC is faced with a problem. It doesn’t want to publish the election results. For the reason noted in my last post: the numbers of votes for the other offices don’t add up to the numbers of votes for president–according to the anonymous Commissioner quoted in the story, adding a direct confession to the clear circumstantial evidence that we have all seen for many weeks now.
The IEBC is attracting no visible pressure from Washington or London or the other “donors” who helped underwrite the IEBC. Whether this is because, as in 2007-08, the foreign policy mavens think it’s “better not to know” or whether because, as always, the foreign assistance mavens want a “success story” as much as a better democracy in Kenya in the future–or both–I don’t know.
So the immediate rub is the delay in providing public funding to Kenya’s political parties based on the election results. How to relieve pressure from pols who want the tax dollars doled out without publishing the election results that determine how the money is allocated? Change the law of course! So the money can be paid out without disclosing the results! An elegantly Kenyan solution.
Can you find on the IEBC website the election results for President, Governor and National Assembly?
The United States spent many millions of dollars on these elections, including for observation efforts through the Carter Center and ELOG through NDI. Likewise the European Union funded the EU Election Observation Mission. The United States and other donors provided many millions for the activities of the IEBC itself through IFES. And of course Kenya spent many of its own millions.
Yet, we have so much less information available from the IEBC now than we did from the disgraced and disbanded ECK in 2008.
So what is the IEBC waiting for? And where are the observers?
Is there some reason that the IEBC fears publishing the results? Could it be because the results show a huge and implausible “overvote” in the presidential race as compared to the number of votes cast in the other five elections at each polling station (and thus, ward, constituency and county)? Did ELOG, the Carter Center or the EU EOM see large numbers of Kenyans cast ballots for president and spoil or discard their ballots in the other five races?
Tomorrow afternoon at the National Endowment for Democracy, Joel Barkan and Maina Kiai will discuss “The Implications of the Kenyan Election”. Watch the video stream from 1930 to 2100 GMT or 1:30 to 3:00pm EDT (Washington) time.
In the article, the new Chief Justice Mutunga gives what my be some foreshadowing of the Court’s ultimate deference to the IEBC in the election petitions:
Keeping the three arms of government separate and independent should not rule out constructive cooperation, says Mutunga: “I see us protecting the independence of the judiciary but also realising that you’ve got to talk to the ministry of finance, to parliament and that sometimes you might also ask the president to intervene.”
A dialogue between the arms of state is important, insists Mutunga: “As a matter of fact, President [Mwai] Kibaki has never called me about a case. The the hotline [from the President’s office to the Chief Justice’s] is not hot — nobody uses it!” As chief justice, Mutunga joined discussions last year with businesses and President Kibaki about how to ensure the elections were credible and peaceful. He added that the judiciary is committed to helping the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). For example, it has allocated special courts to deal with all electoral disputes quickly.
. . . .
There is, however, nervousness about how the IEBC will fare . . . .
If the role of the Court is to work collectively with the other parts of the Government to promote “credibility” to keep “peace” then perhaps it is best to ignore “legalistic” details like more votes than registered voters in many polling places, and the raising and lowering of the number of registered voters in various parts of the country. Perhaps this is what is meant by a “robust” and “progressive” jurisprudence.
10:00am Friday at the Sarova Stanley in Nairobi InformAction and AfriCOG will launch a new online collaboration:
The website is a joint project between AfriCOG and InformAction and is an attempt to present in public all the evidence around the recent elections. Some of that is from the cases filed at the Supreme Court, but it will also include material and information from citizens, observers and others. Citizens will be provided a location to post /Number to send text messages in order to submit any information and evidence they gathered so that the complete truth on the recent elections can emerge.
Importantly, The People’s Court will be an accountability mechanism on the IEBC and the Supreme Court. Analysis of the Court’s decision will be posted on the website hoping to engender critical and constructive discussions on why they took the decision that they did, in the face of the evidence that will be presented.
The People’s Court gives the public unique access to all the evidence filed at the Supreme Court in the Civil Society petition challenging the election process.
By inviting citizen participation, we aim to make institutions accountable and uphold the high democratic standards of the constitution. We also hope that the website will be used as a forum for debate and opinion, celebrating freedom of expression in Kenya and our vibrant tradition of democracy activism.
Before noting the choice of speakers for the Uhuruto inauguration, the idea that governance in Kenya might be in the process of falling in line with its East African neighbors has been much on my mind since the IEBC’s decision on the election on March 9.
Museveni as the featured speaker–and what he had to say–certainly fits this theme. Museveni can readily castigate the ICC and “the West” for meddlesome advocacy of international standards, knowing that he has a mutual “security” relationship at a deeper level with the United States. He gets criticized by the U.S. for changing the constitution to stay in power, and for taking and keeping control of the Ugandan electoral commission–but without discernible “consequences”.
Uhuru himself in his speech said nothing about corruption–a major theme in the KANU to NARC transition and the original Kibaki inauguration, and well understood to be the Achilles Heel for Kenya’s economy. And as I have noted before, the Jubilee platform’s only “plank” relating to governance is a proposal for active state intervention in the civil society arena.
Museveni and his NRM have been associated with the KANU of Moi and of Uhuru and Ruto over the years and at some level Kenya post-Moi has been an outlier in the East African Community of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. As well as Museveni, one naturally thinks of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and the recently departed Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia as authoritarian heads of state who could count on strong support in Washington at a variety of levels–both in terms of underlying security relationships and friendships with American politicians who could be counted on for advocacy in the face of international controversy.
Uhuru himself, quite the contrary to his short-lived campaign rhetoric this year as an ICC indictee, has been a favorite Kenyan politician of many in the American establishment. He talks the talk well. He was educated in the U.S. and has been a frequent visitor. A “family friend” of former Assistant Secretary of State Frazer by reputation. Rich even by American standards, and a business owner whose inherited fortune was generationally cleansed from openly kleptocratic political origins. Before the confirmation of the ICC charges but after the 2008 post-election violence when the issues with the alleged funding of the Mungiki attacks in Naivasha and Nakuru were well known, he was a primary lobbyist for the Kenyan government in the U.S. seeking things like a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact. Before the 2007 election, he entertained official American visitors including Senator Obama as the “Official Leader of the Opposition”. He was singled out for positive recognition in a report by CIPE, the Center for International Private Enterprise (the National Endowment for Democracy’s core institute under the United States Chamber of Commerce) and was spoken of in government as a Kenyan who “says the right things”.
. . . In all likelihood, the first round of voting will lead to a runoff election on April 10 between Raila Odinga, the current prime minister of Kenya’s hastily-constructed unity government, and Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s deputy Prime Minster and the son of Kenya’s first president. The tightness of the race bodes ill; it is unlikely that either side will be able to score a quick victory, and it will not take much vote rigging to influence the election’s outcome. The losing party is virtually certain, therefore, to contest the results. Some violence, in other words, seems all but assured. The question is how long it will last, whether it will spread nationwide, and how many people will be displaced, injured, or killed…
Most of the piece is behind the firewall so I won’t copy it here, but she goes on to argue that U.S. interests counsel what I would characterize as essentially a business as usual approach to Uhuru (and by implication of course Ruto) unless and until they end up eventually convicted by the ICC. I shared this with a friend in Washington with the comment that this could be read as a Washington argument not to get too exercised if Uhuru helped himself to some extra votes to win–the risk of instability was very high and the downside to having Uhuru in office wasn’t that great.
The Carter Center has released another round of reporting on the election, “slamming” the IEBC, but concluding with a factually unsupported pronouncement that in spite of the electoral commission’s many failures their announced result happened to “reflect the will of the Kenyan people”. This was language being tossed around in certain circles before the election with reference to Moi’s races back in the ’90s. How to say an election is bad but the incumbent or other beneficiary of the state misconduct would have won anyway? The big difference in 2013, of course, should have been that the Kenyan voters had approved–with much U.S. support–a new constitution that was supposed to end the “first past the post” system that so benefited Moi and require a “runoff to majority”. When you read the Carter Center report it is clear that there is no way they can offer any substantive assurance at all for the IEBC’s award of just enough to Uhuru to avoid that runoff.
But, there are interests at stake besides justice–there is also “stability”, and “peacekeeping” troops in Somalia, etc., etc.
So we shall see. I hope for the best for Kenya, but the Uhuruto ascendancy looks to me like a big win for tribal chauvinism and a real step back in terms of democratic ideals. Kenya is very different from either Rwanda or Ethiopia, and from Uganda, too. Whatever excuses one makes for Kagame and Museveni in their own postwar environments, to me, ought not to apply to Kenyatta or Uhuru in Kenya.