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.

Kikuyu Wananchi Deserve to Know about Bribery at ECK in Deciding Whether to Follow Uhuru and Kibaki

The public side of the tribal rhetoric from politicians in Kenya right now is already at a level beyond what it was in the 2007 presidential campaign. [April 16 update–following warnings of arrest and other punitive consequences from the ICC the rhetoric of the suspects has been toned down at present and a movement to “blackout” coverage of the Ocampo 6 defendants had taken off.]

Uhuru Kenyatta has presented himself at the ICC in the Hague as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, by authority of “the duly elected” President.  He bases his defense for his alleged involvement with the support and orchestration of ethnic revenge attacks in the Rift Valley on Prime Minister Odinga’s call for “mass action” in the face of the ECK’s announcement of Kibaki as the election winner rather than commencing an action in the Kenyan courts.  Basically the whole situation is to be blamed on Odinga personally for not accepting his loss in the elections.

Uhuru has been designated a Kikuyu elder and announced by the old guard as Kibaki’s successor as leader of the ethnic Kikuyu, as well Kibaki’s successor in politics.  And now he is in alliance with William Ruto, his dockmate at the Hague accused on being an instigator of ethnic  Kalenjin militia against Kikuyu in the Rift Valley.  All should be forgiven except Raila.

And the spokesman for PNU, partner in the alleged Government of National Unity, has published an editorial expressing his personal view that the Prime Minister is essentially the devil incarnate.

More politics as usual, perhaps, in Kenya–but politics as usual may mean that people get killed.  It is obviously time to be concerned about the 2012 election.

A key question is whether large numbers of rank-and-file Kikuyu are willing to answer Uhuru’s war cry.  Another is whether Kikuyu business leaders outside of elective politics will aid in eventually resisting the ICC.

Most Kikuyu did in fact vote for Kibaki’s re-election in 2007.  It was a close election.  I think they deserve to know the truth about what happened at the ECK in that election in making their decision about how to respond to Uhuru’s rhetoric now.

This is from an Inter Press Service story this weekend on Martha Karua’s 2012 presidential candidacy:

[Martha] Karua helped form the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) that won the 2003 general election, and ended nearly four decades of rule by KANU. When she entered parliament, there were six female MPs. Now there are 22 out a total of 222.

Karua strongly supported the current president, Mwai Kibaki, during his days as the Democratic Party (DP) leader and during the violent conflict that followed the disputed 2007elections which gave birth to the current coalition government with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“I supported the president at that time because that is what the electoral commission said,” she says. She was appointed Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs in January 2008.

But she resigned her ministerial position in frustration in mid-2009.

“I realised all they wanted was Moi to be out so that those who assume office continued with the same vices that were rampant during Moi’s era. Impunity and corruption are still the order of the day. So I quit because I did not want to be part of a government that does not listen to the cries of the governed,” Karua says.

Kibaki agrees to start fresh on key nominations

Reuters: “Kenya President rows back on judicial appointments”

By James Macharia

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki ended a row over top judicial appointments that had threatened the country’s fragile coalition government by saying on Tuesday that he would start the selection process afresh.

Daily Nation: “Kibaki withdraws list of nominees”

By Anthony Kariuki
President Kibaki has withdrawn his nominations to four constitutional offices.

The President said that whereas he acted within his constitutional mandate in making the nominations, the matter was of great national importance.
“Following extensive consultations with a large section of Members of Parliament in order to ensure that national interest remains paramount, I reiterate that both the Legal and Justice Committee of Parliament as well as the Committee on Finance and Trade concluded that I have acted within my constitutional mandate in the execution of the nominations,” he said at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi.

“However, considering the importance of the office of the Chief Justice as the head of the Judicial Arm of the Government, I have considered all the concerns expressed in regard to this nomination and I have concluded that it is beneficial that the nomination to fill this office, during the transition period, is also done through the Judicial Service Commission,” said President Kibaki.

“In regard to nomination of the Attorney General, I have invited the Prime Minister for further consultations.

“I have also decided that the positions of Director of Public Prosecutions and Controller of Budget should be advertised through the Public Service Commission,” he said.

President Kibaki said the move will “enable us to move forward with the implementation process of the Constitution”.

It would appear that the decision of current AG Wako not to support the Kibaki appointments may have been a key event, as well perhaps as the heavy diplomatic pressure.

Diplomatic Support for Marende

On Kenya the State Department issued an official statement today calling for transparency and cooperation in implementing the new Kenyan constitution, keying off Speaker Marende’s ruling on the Kibaki appointments.  This follows a statement by the German Ambassador to Kenya on Friday that the President and Prime Minister should “sit and agree” on the key appointments. U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger called the Marende ruling “courageous”, “correct”, “objective” , and based on “principle” and said that he expects that it will be appreciated and supported by the Kenyan people.

Press Statement

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
February 20, 2011

Speaker of Parliament Kenneth Marende ruled on February 17 that President Kibaki’s nominations to key judicial and budget positions were not consistent with the provisions of the new constitution, highlighting the importance of moving forward on reform transparently and cooperatively. Progress can only be achieved if the President and Prime Minister work together in a collaborative way to implement the constitution, particularly to ensure that appointments are made in a transparent and credible manner.

Adoption of Kenya’s new constitution in August 2010 was a major milestone in implementing sweeping democratic reforms set out in the National Accord. The National Accord – which is written into the constitution’s transitional provisions – calls for the two principals to consult with a view to achieving compromise on key issues. We also encourage the coalition leaders to involve civil society in the constitutional implementation process in order to achieve national consensus.

Full implementation of the letter and spirit of the constitution is crucial to realize the promise of a democratically stable and prosperous future for all Kenyans.

The Nation, “Power politics behind Kibaki-Raila standoff”:

The latest standoff in the grand coalition government is part of an orchestrated campaign to stave off the ICC intervention in Kenya’s post-election crisis, the Sunday Nation can report.

Interviews with an array of players in the top political echelons and informed legal circles revealed that the threat of ICC trials facing powerful men and the cut-throat competition to succeed President Kibaki are at the heart of the conflict that has played out over the controversial list of nominees to key constitutional offices.

Part of the scheme is the bare-knuckled effort by the PNU top brass to ensure that Prime Minister Raila Odinga does not succeed President Kibaki next year. Senior PNU politicians believe the PM is keen to use the ICC trials to eliminate competition for the top seat next year.

There is also growing discomfort in sections of PNU that a Raila presidency will most certainly support speedy prosecutions by the International Criminal Court or revive some sensitive cases touching on powerful individuals.

Apparently, forces against the prosecutions have broken ranks and see the controversial nominations as an avenue to size up their opponents.

An international law expert familiar with the workings of the ICC said key players out there have been keenly following recent developments in Nairobi and Kenya risks being designated a hostile State.

“The kind of relationship that existed between the ICC and Kenya is no more because of the shuttle diplomacy to the AU and the letter to the UN Security Council,” said the lawyer who cannot be quoted discussing ICC matters.

Here is an Alex Ndegwa feature from today, “Marende: the voice of reason amid chaos”. I agree.

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.

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.

“That’s what Africa needs – social transformation – not this circus of changing leaders”

A quote from Museveni. The story in the Monitor today, via allAfrica.com, is headlined “Museveni Willing to Let Besigye Rule”:

President Museveni, who marks 25 years in power today, will hand over power if he is defeated in next month’s election.

In an interview with the BBC World Service, Mr Museveni, the incumbent, said he would retire if he lost in a democratic process but said he expected to win with a big majority.

President Museveni, who is fighting a fourth election and the third against main challenger and former ally, Dr Kizza Besigye, has previously said he would not hand over power to his rival.

I will accord at least some significance to Museveni saying this. I thought it was conspicuous at the time in the run up to Kenya’s 2007 presidential election that Kibaki, so far as I was aware, never made such a statement. Raila Odinga stated publicly that he would accept a Kibaki win, but only the Foreign Minister, Raphael Tuju, made a reciprocal statement for the Kibaki administration. Did this mean that the message was for foreign diplomats rather than Kenyans?

On Monday, a group of opposition leaders called for a delay in the election date to allow the issuance of voter cards and a clarified register:

There are 13.9 million voters according to the provisional register released by the EC which figure the opposition and other stakeholders have questioned for a country where 56 per cent of its 32 million people are recorded as being younger than 18, the threshold of adult voting age.

. . . .

The opposition leaders say absence of voters’ cards, proliferation of ghost polling stations, a bloated voters register, multiple registration, and with foreigners and under age voters preparing to participate, the elections won’t be free and fair.

Calls for a postponement come weeks after the FDC sued the electoral body, seeking a declaration compelling it to issue cards to newly-registered voters.

EC Secretary Sam Rwakoojo has contended that Section 35(3) of the amended Presidential Elections Act, 2010, provides for voting without the voters cards as long as one is able to prove to the polling officer or assistant that his or her name and photograph appear in the register. Hearing of the case continues.

In the meantime, FDC leader Kizza Besigye, and his compatriots in the opposition vow they will announce their own version of the results. The opposition, whose repeated demands for broad electoral reforms were ignored by government, is adamant that the EC is not impartial in the matter and cannot be trusted to return an impeccable result.

Dr Besigye has unsuccessfully contested the last two elections which the Supreme Court found were not conducted in accordance with the law, were marred by irregularities, including rigging, but that the rigging was insufficient to have a substantial effect on the final result.

Of course an inflated voter role was a key issue in the failure of that 2007 election in Kenya as reported by the Kreigler Commission.

Interesting to note this week that Museveni has now come out in dissent from the “international consensus” that Gbagbo lost the election in Ivory Coast, saying that a full investigation is needed.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department issued its Travel Alert for the election period:

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Uganda to the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections on February 18, 2011. U.S. citizens in Uganda during this period are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the election period. This Travel Alert expires on April 18, 2011.

Uganda’s 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections generally were orderly and peaceful, and there are no indications that the 2011 elections will be any different. Nevertheless, the State Department recommends that U.S. citizens monitor the local news for changing security developments throughout the elections. Instances of localized unrest related to the elections are possible, and U.S. citizens should be aware that even peaceful gatherings and demonstrations can turn violent. U.S. citizens should maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind.

.  .  .  .

For an anthropology take on the campaign, see “DJ M7” from The Africanist keyed off the Afrobarometer poll discussed here.

And, the Uchugazi platform is up with the website for Citizens Election Watch IT, and on the blogroll.

Kibaki pledges no action for now against six suspects; key reading on Rift Valley

From Capital FM, “Ocampo Six can rest easy, Kibaki says”

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – President Mwai Kibaki has made it clear that he does not plan to take any action against government officials named by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo as suspected masterminds of the post election violence.

In a statement sent from State House on Wednesday afternoon, the Head of State said calls for action against those named were “prejudicial, pre-emptive and against the rules of natural justice.”

Christian Science Monitor series by Scott Baldauf:

Part 1: As ICC names suspect Kenyan leaders, records reveal talk of more ethnic cleansing

Part 2: Why one young Kenyan decided to kill for an ethnic militia

Part 3: In Kenya, the deep pull of land drove grievances – and ethnic violence

Part 4: Threats to Kenya’s ICC witnesses: Traitors will be dealt with ‘ruthlessly’

RELATED: The six men accused of inciting Kenya’s post-election violence

Kibaki leaves for China to seek infrastructure deals

President Kibaki has left for China to seek support for a number of projects that Kenya has discussed with the Chinese, including development of a port at Lamu, a rail line from Lamu, a standard guage rail line from Mombasa (existing “Lunatic Express” line is narrow guage), light rail for Nairobi–from Africa Review.

In the May issue of The Atlantic, former New York Times correspondent Howard W. French explores this type of Chinese investment activity in Africa in “The Next Empire”.

Raila Bumps Ruto to Higher Education, Science and Technology; Kibaki gets to add Transportation Ministry to Kimunya

“Ruto moved as Raila cracks whip in ODM” headlines the Daily Nation

You might think that Higher Education, Science and Technology would be pretty important for Kenya’s future–and you would be right. But, the Nation is good enough to explain that Agriculture is the plum post because it controls 30 parastatals, whereas Higher Ed, Science and Technology only controls three.

OK, so now we investigate the Maize Scandal, anyone, please . . .

Of course, Hon. Kimunya now gets to bring his standards to Transportation, since no accountability has yet to attach to the Grand Regency Hotel sale scandal. Kibaki cronies have key interests in common carriers in Nairobi.

In a related story, “Raila shaping his political forces for 2012 election”, the Nation asserts:

The power struggle started with Cabinet and other government appointments, was amplified by the fierce opposition to the PM’s drive to clear the Mau forest of illegal encroachment and has seemingly come to a head with the two taking divergent positions on the new constitution.

But for Mr Odinga, taking Mr Ruto down a peg because of the issues they have differed on might be secondary to the longer-term goal of shaping his political forces ahead of 2012 elections.

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