Trump Administration’s top diplomat for Africa visits Nairobi; public statements adjusted to advocate for “national conversation” as substitute for “national dialogue”

I was pleasantly surprised by the previous statements from the State Department both from Washington and in Nairobi, calling for “national dialogue” in the wake of Kenya’s fraught and objectionably violent environment in the wake of the boycotted October 26 presidential re-run.

In the latest release from Washington on December 4 the State Department said, “the Acting Assistant Secretary will travel to Nairobi, Kenya from December 4-6, where he will meet with representatives of the Kenyan government, as well as with Kenyan civil society. The visit will encourage all sides in Kenya to participate in a national dialogue following the presidential election.” (emphasis added)

Today, however, following the talks, a new statement was issued–by the Ambassador–backing off from the language “national dialogue”. Instead, along with a call for Odinga to back off on a “people’s swearing in”, and a generic call for protesters to avoid violence and the Government’s security forces to avoid unnecessary killing and to investigate themselves on the outstanding accusations that they had been doing so, the State Department now recommends a “national conversation”.

Why is this different? Well, you would have to ask the Embassy or Main State Department and/or the White House why they changed the language, but “national dialogue” is a clear reference to the formal process resulting from the February 2008 settlement agreement between Kibaki and Raila leading to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission Report (censored and held in abeyance by the Uhuruto Administration–an issue in the August election), the Kriegler Commission on the 2007 Election (leading to the buyout of the Kivuitu led ECK), the Waki Commission on the Post Election Violence (leading to the aborted ICC prosecutions) and constitutional reform process that led to the 2010 Referendum adopting the new Constitution which mandates the 2/3 gender rule (declined so far), diaspora voting (mostly declined so far), devolution (in process), and such. A “national conversation” is a nice notion and probably a good thing to do here in the United States as well as anywhere else culturally divisive politics.

See “Reformers vs. The Status Quo: Is it possible to have free and fair polls” by Eliud Kibii in The Elephant to put the current election disputes and contest in the complete post-Cold War context.

Update: Ambassador Godec’s tweet of Dec 11:

NASA’s decision yesterday is a positive step. We again call for a sustained, open, and transparent national conversation involving all Kenyans to build national unity and address long-standing issues.

Mudavadi offers wise response to Uhuruto victory rally on Post Election Violence

“Greatness is not attained by glorifying yourself in times of victory. It comes only when you handle victory in great humility,” he said.

The former Vice President said the Afraha rally was in bad faith particularly for the 2007-08 post-election violence victims who are still in tears and despair nine years later.

“Kenya’s healing lies not in holding a roadshow prayer rally. It lies in the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report which Jubilee, with her numbers, has deliberately failed to push for adoption in Parliament. The report offers better options for healing, compensation of PEV victims, cohesion and measures of dealing with ethnicity that has crippled our state,” he said.

Mudavadi dismisses Afraha rally as “roadshow”.

Mudavadi was Raila’s running mate in 2007 and presumably would have been in place to become Prime Minister under a new constitution if the Kibaki vote totals had not been marked up at the ECK to keep Kibaki in office and unleashing carnage.  In 2012, Mudavadi was the original choice of some more responsible, less jingoistic elements of the Kikuyu establishment over Uhuru, and had a signed deal for Uhuru’s support, for which Uhuru reneged.  Ultimately, Mudavadi seems to have proved to be too temperate, too sober for the times.

From this blog four years ago:

The political establishment in Kenya will not be easily moved in the 2012 elections, now most likely ending up to be in 2013 through a complicated series of legal wickets for which no one has claimed responsibility and for which there is no obvious popular support. I hope it is finally dawning of any doubters that the Government of Kenya as an institution is quite mobilized on balance to try to stop the ICC, as it has been–and not in favor of any substitute local justice mechanism.

Kenya’s National Council of Churches (NCCK) sticks up for EU envoys; TJRC slammed; and an optimistic view for March 4

The Star: “NCCK Warns Uhuru, Ruto over the Hague”:

“It will not be easy running a government while away as compared to from State House, but we ask Kenyans to exercise their discretion and vote as they want,” said NCCK Secretary General Rev Canon Peter Karanja yesterday after a two-day meeting at the Jumuia Conference and Retreat Centre in Limuru.

The High Court is due to rule tomorrow if Uhuru and Ruto are eligible to contest the presidency on grounds of integrity. “We ask for the law to be followed as we await the court ruling on Friday,” he said.

The press conference was attended by the NCCK chairperson Rev Canon Rosemary Mbogoh, deputy secretary Oliver Kisaka and Zion Harvest Mission Bishop Nicolas Oloo.

The council condemned the recent criticism of diplomats who stated last week that there will be “consequences” if Kenyans elect Uhuru and Ruto as president and deputy president.

“NCCK appreciates the interests of the foreign missions, European Union and African Union, because they helped us when the country went haywire and it is not fair to ridicule them,” he said.

The NCCK statement warned against tribal balkanization, called for more voter education by the IEBC, urged politicians to focus on issues, and asked President Kibaki to gazette the new National Land Commission.

CapitalFM: “KNHCR slams Truth Commission as Sham”.  The official Kenya National Human Rights Commission denounced the failure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established as part of the settlement following 2008’s post-election violence to produce and release a report ahead of the March 4 election.  The report was due by 2011.

Wycliffe Muga’s column in The Star this week, “Why There Will be No Violence,” explains his optimism:

. . . .

Actually, I am pretty sure that it won’t happen again. This election is going to be totally different from the 2007 one in three crucial respects:

First, we have an electoral body which only came into being through a process involving a broad consensus. Thus the IEBC, despite all its organisational weaknesses, is thus totally unlike the old ECK which President Kibaki openly stuffed with his cronies just before the election.

Then we have a new judiciary, the members of which have been subjected to public vetting, often of a very humiliating kind. And although there are those among us who still regard the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga as an ear-stud-wearing poseur, who has yet to prove his mettle, nonetheless no loser in any election can convincingly argue that “there is no point” in seeking justice from this judiciary.

Finally, we now have the ICC entrenched in our national life in a way which was inconceivable before the post-election violence came upon us. Those of us who knew anything of the ICC prior to this, tended to think that it was set up to try Serb militia chiefs; Congolese and Liberian warlords; and the likes of Joseph Kony.

Now we know better. And, more significantly, our top politicians know better. They know that the moment they send out any street gangs or private militias to do their dirty work, they have effectively supplied the ICC with the witnesses who will one day – from the safety of Europe – turn up in fine suits to offer evidence against them.

. . . .