Is it finally Raila’s turn to be Kenya’s president?

[Revised June 26]: Here is an outline of my thinking on a potential Raila Odinga run for President of Kenya as the choice of what is still the informal coalition amongst ODM, Jubilee and most of the larger established “third parties” in 2022:

1) Two years in we still do not know the actual “deal” reflected in the 2018 Kenyatta-Odinga “handshake”. What we do know is that it was concluded very discretely between the two men and their closest personal associates to the exclusion of their “running mates”, parties and coalition partners.

2) The extraordinary discretion has remained intact to the point that as the informal 2022 campaign has proceeded and heated up, public speculation died off and attention shifted to the intermediate issues such of coalition formation, Uhuru’s consolidation of control of Parliament, the upcoming referendum (presumably to set up the execution of the handshake deal).

3) My personal opinion has been over the years that it was a big mistake that the position of Prime Minister “went away” in the “back room” at Lake Naivasha when the Kibaki/PNU and Odinga/ODM leaders set the final terms of the new Constitution to go to referendum in 2010. That was a key fault of the “Wako Draft” that was the raison d’etre for the Orange Democratic Movement from the 2005 referendum in the first place. If the position had not “gone away” Raila could have served his second term as Prime Minister in 2013-17 and the whole UhuRuto anti-ICC “coalition of the killing” scenario could been avoided (which perhaps explains why Kibaki would never let it happen). Hypothetically, if Kenyatta in early 2018 wanted to keep a hand in government and reduce risks to his interests after his term would end in 2022, it would seem relatively straightforward for Odinga to agree to cooperate in fixing that omission in the Constitution in return for support to finally get his turn in State House (even with more circumscribed power).

4) We have had two years to see that the Uhuru-Raila “friendship” is substantive and involves some real level of commitment between the two men. Both have shown uncharacteristic discipline and forbearance toward each other. Perhaps they have some knowledge in common that the rest of us are not directly in on?

5) Raila has been on his best statesman-like behavior, speaking to regional, continental and international issues and avoiding being embarrassed by old friends, like Tanzania’s Magufuli, who have fallen afoul of international opinion, even to the point of public criticism of Tanzania’s COVID response.

6) The main risk to the Kenyatta family “legacy”, the growing business empire, would be a single party strong president at odds with the Kenyattas. Whether or not there was actual intention back in 2012 to follow through on supporting Ruto in 2022-32 (which would only be known by the tightest insiders, the sort of who know the details of the superseding “handshake”) it is now abundantly clear that Ruto has been non-compliant in subordinating himself and would pose unacceptable risk.

7) None of the other candidates of national stature and recognition aside from Raila seem to compare favorably to Ruto as a popular campaigner. Most reached identifiable peaks some years ago and do not have clear command even of their own regions, especially in a devolved system where there are many more centres of patronage and exposure than in years past.

8) While Raila can be characterized as a “perennial candidate” he is widely understood as having actually won in 2007 (see my “War for History” page). He can point to his role as Prime Minister under Kibaki as an example of working in compromise with the dominant Kikuyu elite to secure some benefits for his own opposition constituents and as leading the most significant post-1964 reform effort in passing the 2010 New Constitution as an element of the “peace deal” and “National Accord” arising from his 2007 campaign (and bucking Kibaki to lead defeat of the 2005 “Wako Draft”). His other key “deliverable” was forcing “consultation” by Kibaki in 2011 after the President announced unilateral appointments for Attorney General and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, leading ultimately to the selection for the Court of international civil society leader and “second liberationist” Willy Mutungu through the Judicial Service Commission in return for Kibaki’s Attorney General choice. While I think it is clear that there should have been a runoff in 2013, Raila accepted the Supreme Court’s controversial affirmation of the 50.07% determination of the then-IEBC. In 2017, he won a reversal at the Supreme Court and stuck to his guns to boycott a referendum without his criteria for reforms and held on through extreme diplomatic pressure to his “People’s President” swearing in while negotiating toward his ultimate deal.

9) Progressives who see a “BBI Referendum” as an elite pact to water down the new constitution (see my last post about the recent writings of Yash Ghai) will face a difficult situation of realpolitik if they align with Ruto to campaign for “No” on a referendum. Ruto was the leader of the “No” campaign against the whole of the reform constitution itself in 2010, and a victory in a “No” campaign in coming months would position him as the populist “giant killer” going into 2022. Much of the 2010 constitution’s “progressivism” has laid dormant for ten years already–do they really expect a better deal from a Ruto succession? Can they realistically hope to start from scratch without an existing voter base to elect some “third force” reformist quickly after a referendum?

10) My sense is that with Uhuru’s support through a consolidated Jubilee, Raila would be generally acceptable to the major external players, the United States and China, along with the UK and France, as well as the other democratic European development donors, Japan and South Korea along with the Gulf States and others. Ruto, on the other hand, seems to be seen as just too crudely corrupt for development donors to warm up to.

11) Commentators are already raising the notion of a risk of election violence for 2022. As in 2013 especially, the idea of affirmative “peace promotion” provides a tremendous advantage for whoever starts out with the most power and disincentivizes open questions about democratic niceties like failed Results Transmission System acquisitions leaving incomplete and contradictory tallies. Ruto has had ten years as Deputy President on the strength of his understood role as the champion of his side of the fighting in the Rift Valley in 2007-08. He has a great deal more to lose now than he did then and fewer, less powerful allies it would seem. The implied threat was a lot more valuable in 2013 when it coincided with the interest of the Kenyattas, also in the dock for the 2008 retribution. The violence worked very effectively for the leaders of both sides in the wake of the stolen election in 2007, so we have to acknowledge that background, but I think the “usual suspects” will have different interests in 2022 and I do not see the implied threat generating the clout for a Ruto presidency that it generated for him as deputy.

12) Conspicuously, I have said nothing about the critical problems faced by most Kenyans today. I have not changed my mind about the performance of the current government (nor are my thoughts here new–I just see possible confirmation as events play out). I am not addressing what should be or could have been as opposed to what I see.

Fifty years ago, Richard Nixon’s Presidential Daily Brief had a full page on the assassination of Kenya’s Tom Mboya

Here is The President’s Daily Brief from the Central Intelligence Agency for Richard Nixon, July 7, 1969 as published in the CIA Freedom of Information Act on-line reading room.

See Tom Wolf’s essay from The Star remembering the time of the Mboya assassination as a Peace Corp volunteer teacher.

Battle over Kenyan election corruption has commenced with vote in Parliament to ban the French vendor OT-Morpho/IDEMIA

IDEMIA f/k/a OT-Morpho before a name change (and previously Safran Morpho before the French defense conglomerate sold this division to the French technology group Oburthur Technologies in a transaction closed shortly before August 2017 Kenyan election) has been a fixture of the past two Kenyan elections.

I have written about issues involving these procurements numerous times over the years and am continuing my engagement with the USAID Freedom Of Information office in their review and processing of public information from USAID support to the Kenyan IEBC in the 2013 election, from my request in 2015. (So far they have processed and released or withheld about half of the records sent from Nairobi to Washington by early 2016. They continue to assure me that they are working away at this.)

See: Kenya Election FOIA news: [heavily redacted] Election Assistance agreement shows U.S. paid for failed Results Transmission system.

Election Assistance FOIA update: disappointed to see from USAID records that IFES was supporting Kenya IEBC/Kenyatta-Ruto defense of 2013 election petition by civil society and opposition.

Nigeria example shows why U.S. and other donors should act now on election technology procurement fraud.

USAID Inspector General should take a hard look at Kenya’s election procurements supported by U.S. taxpayers

Last July IDEMIA dismissed without explanation a defamation suit it had filed against Raila Odinga and other NASA coalition leaders in April 2018 shortly after Raila’s “handshake” with Uhuru ended high level political contention over problematic KIEMS system IDEMIA had sold the IEBC in March 2017. The court records I reviewed indicted a unilateral dismissal rather than a settlement.

The judgment of the Supreme Court in the 2013 election petitions of AfriCOG and the opposition found that there was evidence of procurement fraud with the failed technology acquisitions, and ordered an investigation, but the IEBC, Kenyan prosecutors and donors all failed on that account. OT-Morpho, n/k/a IDEMIA once again was chosen in an opaque and controversial procurement process for the bigger 2017 “integrated” system. (I was told by the USAID press office that USAID did not finance the KIEMS purchase for the IEBC for 2017.)

But finally today, reports the Daily Nation, “For credible elections, MPs vote to block Huduma Namba firm“:

Members of the National Assembly voted on Wednesday to block technology firm IDEMIA Securities from doing business in Kenya for at least 10 years, citing violation of the Companies Act.

The move complicates the ongoing Huduma Namba registration, as the contract was awarded to the French firm at Sh6 billion.

. . . .

The MPs amended the report of the House Committee on Public Accounts on the audited accounts of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), to have the technology firm held accountable for irregular payments it received during the 2017 general elections.

134 days after election, Kenya’s IEBC fails to produce election results in Parliament

Daily Nation, July 16, “IEBC fails to submit final poll tally” :

The electoral commission failed to furnish Parliament with the final results of the March 4 General Election Tuesday amid claims that some commissioners refused to sign the report.

 

The commission was expected to submit the final tally to the Justice and Legal Affairs committee at a meeting scheduled with the team at Parliament Buildings Tuesday. The committee was to relay the report to Parliament.

 

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Issack Hassan and chief executive James Oswago appeared before the committee but were turned away after the chairman indicated that the tally was not ready for submission as per the request from Parliament. . . .

Here is the Standard story.

 

Kenyan Parliamentary committee summons registrar of parties; issues include failure to publish election results

Old KANU Office

The Star reports on the latest round of the IEBC controversy:

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.

Here is yesterday’s story in the Standard in which Ms. Ndung’u is interviewed: “Political parties pay day here as Treasury opens purse”.

In the meantime, IFES has announced it is hosting IEBC Chairman Issac Hassan in Washington on June 12 for a discussion about “lessons learned” from the election and the EU Election Observation Mission released its Final Report.

Uganda: New links for ongoing themes . . .

Uganda will review its commitment of forces to the AMISOM mission in Somalia due to being “stabbed in the back” by accusation of arming rebels in DRC.

Today, Uganda’s Media Council ordered suspension of a play entitled “State of the Nation” about corruption and poor governance, pending a “review”.

The Ugandan Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadega, is attracting popular support for standing up to pressure on a recent trip to Canada on the longstanding “anti-homosexuality” bill, and rejects the notion that she should block debate on the bill to appease aid donors or avoid visa suspensions.

In the meantime, two patients from a road accident reportedly died after the ICU in Uganda’s largest hospital closed recently due to lack of equipment:

According to a research paper published by the Bio Med Central Journal, Uganda has only one ICU bed for every one million Ugandans. The paper reveals that critical care remains neglected with many patients with potentially treatable conditions unable to access services.

Ideally, with Mulago’s 1,500 bed capacity, at least 150 of them should be in a high dependency ward for people who need more intensive observation and treatment.

Other departments that have ICU beds in the hospital are the pediatric ward (4) which are not working, the Heart Institute (4) and the Cancer Institute (3) while the general ward has 12 beds with no equipment. Other public hospitals that have functioning ICUs in the country are Mbarara, Lacor, Gulu and Jinja.

h/t Rosebell’s Blog on Twitter

VOA reports that Britain has joined Ireland in an aid suspension over corruption in the Prime Minister’s office (although apparently the Irish suspension is general, whereas the UK is apparently only suspending aid to that one office):

The money was meant to have been spent on helping the needy, and to help pay for a ‘peace recovery and development program’ in northern Uganda after decades of conflict and devastation.

The Ugandan government has pledged prosecutions. Two senior officials have been charged, while 17 others have been suspended as the investigation continues.

“This report does not surprise anybody,” said Dr. Fred Golooba Mutebi, a political analyst and a visiting fellow at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. The only shock, he added, “is the amounts of money stolen are quite colossal.”

"Freedom of expression is your right"

“FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS YOUR RIGHT”

Some Notes from Kenya (updated)

As Kenyans and Kenya watchers in the U.S. are recognizing the increasing number of challenges in the political system in preparing for next year’s critical transition election, another key driver of frustration and instability among the wananchi has been high inflation at a time of slower growth.  There is some positive news in that inflation has continued to arc downward after peaking at over 20% last November.  From The Standard, “Cost of living eases as inflation falls to 5.3%”:

But even as the economy continues to paint a grim outlook, the cost of living dropped with the overall month-on-month inflation falling   to 5.32 per cent in September from 6.09 per cent in August.

According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the economy expanded by 3.3 per cent compared to a growth of 3.5 per cent in a similar period last year.

Agriculture and forestry slowed substantially growing by 1.6 per cent compared to a growth of 4.2 per cent in the second quarter of last year.

The decline in performance of agriculture was mainly an outcome of a decrease in exports of cut flowers, fruits, vegetables and tea.

Although job prospects for young Kenyans will remain extremely problematic, some relief from the escalation of staple food prices in particular, if it continues, will help reduce pressure on the poor.

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament took care of themselves by amending the Elections Act to allow “party hopping” as reported by The Star:

The MPs approved the  Election (Amendment) (No 2) Bill and effectively changed Section 34(8) of the Elections Act which required that a member should be in the party list on which to contest the election three months before the list is submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties.

Now the parties are required to submit their lists not later than January 4. Only those on these lists will be allowed to vie or be nominated to the National Assembly or Senate. Those vying as independent candidates however are guided by a different regulation.

The original Act required that members belong to the party through which they will vie for seats by yesterday, which was three months to January 4.

The changes made yesterday mean that the over 100 MPs who want to leave parties which sponsored them to Parliament will serve their full term without any legal challenge.

According to this story from IRIN, the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture reports that 90% of the food consumed in Kenya comes from smallholder farms. The number of smallholders practicing irrigation has increased from 400,000 to an estimated 700,000 over the past two years, according to the Ministry. Stil just 1.7 percent of the country’s arable land is irrigated, while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates it has 300,000 hectares with irrigation potential.

On the healthcare front, doctors in Kenya’s public hospitals agreed to end their strike in it’s third week as reported by Capital FM from allafrica.com:

Nairobi — The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) on Thursday called off its three-week strike after the government pledged to address all the grievances that had been raised by the medics.

After talks with the union officials, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o announced that he had revoked all disciplinary measures that the government had taken on the medics for taking part in the strike.

At a joint press conference with union officials at Afya House on Thursday evening, Nyong’o said the government would also release the salaries that had been withheld from the striking doctors.

The meeting agreed to set up a committee that would address the doctors’ grievances, which included demands for fastracking of a return-to-work formula that had been signed to end a similar strike late last year. . . .

While Parliament had continued to fail to prepare to implement the legislative “gender sharing” requirements of the new constitution for the next Parliament, the National Council of Churches of Kenya has selected its first female chairman:

Canon Rosemary Mbogo, the Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Kenya has been elected the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Chair.

The position is significant as the Rev. Rosemary is the first woman chair person elected in that capacity since the history of NCCK. Rev. Rosemary will serve in the post for three years. Archbishop TImothy Ndambuki of Africa Brotherhood Church was elected as the Vice Chair. The elections took place during the 61st General Assembly at the Jumuia Conference and Beach Resort, Kanamai in Mombasa. Hundred of delegates from all over the country represented their respective member churches. Currently, NCCK has 26 member churches, among them Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Africa Brotherhood Church, Episcopal Church of Africa and Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya.

Helicopter crash in Nairobi’s Ngong outskirts kills Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and Asst. Minister Orwa Ojode

With the untimely death of Prof. SaItoti, Kenya has lost yet another old lion of the political class, but this time one who was young enough to be in a key role in the current government and taken seriously as a presidential contender in the current race.

Others who perished included Pilots Luke Oyugi and Nancy Gituanja together with two bodyguards Joshua Tonkei and Thomas Murimi.

The two were heading to Orwa Ojode’s Ndhiwa Constituency for a church fundraising activity.

It is exactly four years when a chopper carrying MPs Kipkalya Kones and Lorna Laboso crashed in Narok.

According to an eye witness, the helicopter was seen diving from the sky and full of smoke before crushing and exploding into flames.

The Chopper was filled with smoke before it crashed. I heard two explosions as it went up in flames,” said Rose Kwamboka.

Another eye witness Leonard Njoroge said he saw the chopper sway one kilometre away from his homestead before it crashed between 8am and 8:30am.

The chopper crashed and exploded on impact scattering money and books and only its tail seemed intact,” he said. The plane destroyed trees as it missed my homestead.”

Sunday Nation report from Emmanual Tioli and Lucas Barasa.

h/t Opalo’s Blog

State Department to Kabila on DRC Presidential Election: “Nevermind”?

The State Department issued a Valentines evening statement on the “ongoing” electoral “process” in the DRC.  Hard to know what the point of this is.  Perhaps it is simply an example of the maxim “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”  Maybe it means:  “since we are looking the other way on the presidential election, we do expect that surely you can do a bit of something on some of these parliamentary races, please.”  I’ll have to defer to the “Congo Watchers” and be interested to hear more from the various election observations over time.

Ongoing Electoral Process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
February 14, 2012

The United States continues to closely monitor the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the hundreds of legal disputes against some legislative election results. We urge Congolese authorities to conduct a full, thorough, and transparent investigation into these disputes, and to release vote tabulation and other records related to the elections and their outcome.

We remain deeply concerned about multiple allegations of human rights abuses by security forces, including illegal and arbitrary detentions throughout the electoral process. The Congolese government should fully investigate such reports, hold anyone found responsible fully accountable, and take concrete steps to ensure that security forces exercise restraint and respect people’s rights of assembly and of peaceful protest. We call on all Congolese leaders and their supporters to act responsibly and to publicly renounce violence.

Despite these concerns, we encourage all political parties to participate fully when the National Assembly is seated in order to preserve and protect the basic democratic principle of representative government in the Congo. The United States remains steadfast in its support of the Congolese people as they work to build a brighter, more democratic future for the DRC.

PRN: 2012/220

 

Related:  U.S. and other Western donors support review of election irregularities in DRC–offer technical assistance

Carter Center calls it as they see it in DRC

DRC: “We have to debunk the idea that it is peace versus transparent elections. The idea that lousy elections are going to bring peace is madness.”