Friday the 13th Ruling: No Kenyan Election Until 2013 Unless Gov’t Dissolved First says High Court

Here is the story from KBC:

A three  judge bench Friday ruled that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sets the date for the general election.

In a one hour ruling by constitutional court judges Isaac lenaola, David Majanja and Mumbi Ngugi, IEBC should set the election date 60 days after the expiry of the current parliament which is January 15,2013.

Going by the ruling, the general election is likely to be held in 2013. The judges who took time to read through the appeals by different petitioners said it was prudent for the IEBC to determine the date since it is the one bestowed with the mandate to conduct elections.

They ruled that the General Election can only be held in 2012 if President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agree, in writing, to dissolve the Grand Coalition Government. This would be 60 days after the Principals agree to terminate the National Accord that holds the coalition parties, PNU and ODM, together.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta says his KANU party will respect the court’s verdict.

Narck Kenya leader Martha Karua posted her immediate reaction on twitter saying she totally disagree’s with the court’s ruling.

She argues that the term of office must include the election period and that’s the interpretation world over.

“I totally disagree with the court’s ruling. Term of office must include the election period and that’s the interpretation world over.”

.  .  .  .

Sloppy or deliberately ambiguous work on the new Constitution strikes again.  The big picture here is that the Kenyan voters end up having foisted on them a “grand coalition” of all the major players from the last election until an election that is LATER rather than SOONER in the wake of the failure of the 2007 election.  Hopefully civil society, democracy activists and donors will use the extra time productively to push the political class further forward on the reforms required to implement the new Constitution and prepare for a better election.  No reason to be optimistic that extra time will help, but we can always hope>

Will Kenyan ICC defendants ever become “too hot to touch” for the U.S. and other Western players in Kenya? If so, when?

With the second round of “confirmation” hearings underway in the Hague for the charges against “the Ocampo Six” this week and next, the U.S. and other Western “donors” and supporters of Kenya’s Grand Coalition Government are confronted with the spectacle of Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister in the dock facing charges of egregious crimes of international significance. Of the six, five either have significant current jobs in the Kenyan government or are Members of Parliament (or both in the case of the Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta).

The current Grand Coalition Government was formed as the preferred donor approach to the 2007 Kenyan election debacle–the U.S. quickly asserted that it was impossible to conduct any sort of remedial activity about the election, that both sides “needed each other” and should cut a deal to share power. The Europeans soon fell in line. The current Kenyan government, as represented in the Hague trials, is not a creation of the Kenyan voting public, but rather of the political elites on “both sides” along with the “international community” led by key players in Kenya, most especially the United States. The U.S. is said to have insisted that the coalition not be temporary but remain in place a full five years as if ordinarily elected.  In playing this role, did we not take on some responsibilities besides promoting conceptual reforms that might or might not bear fruit in the future?

I was in Kenya as these crimes were happening. Who really believes that Ocampo is making these things up?

Irrespective of whether Ocampo, or more likely his successor, ultimately wins convictions eventually, what is it that we need to know that we don’t know now to decide whether or not the defendants are ordinary political leaders of an allied country which we support and with whom we conduct “business as usual” or are ordinary defendants charged with crimes against humanity directed at their own people, and while facing trial worthy of some decent level of distance and disapproval?

Make no mistake about the defendants continued reliance on attempts to rally tribal solidarity.  Take note of  Uhuru Kenyatta’s approach to the charges that he was a primary mover in unleashing the Mungiki to murder Luos in the eastern Rift Valley as a political counterbalance to Kalenjin militia attacks on Kikuyu further west, from today’s Standard:

A lawyer representing 233 victims of post-election violence accused Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta of uttering inflammatory statements on the eve of his appearance at The Hague.

The lawyer, Mr Morris Anyah, used press reports carried on September 19 in which the minister was allegedly quoted saying, “we are going to The Hague and we know justice will prevail, because we did nothing wrong and all we did was to support our people”.

He claimed that the statement had tribal connotations and was intended to justify retaliatory attacks that are subject of charges against Uhuru before the ICC.

On Wednesday, the lawyer said the statement, which seems to proclaim Uhuru’s innocence holds a deadly meaning in the tribal context of the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

If the defendants at the Hague this week had wanted to “support” any of the Kenyan people, or otherwise defend Kikuyu farmers and villagers in the Rift Valley, they could have used the government security forces at their disposal to secure “hot spots” in the Rift Valley rather than Uhuru Park in Nairobi, and could have more generally used the security forces for security instead of for the election effort.  What Ocampo is laying bare on both sides is tactical mass murder for politics–this was never war, it was politics by Kenyan means.

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.

“O-Negative” Conspiracy Theories Show Kenyans Can Be As Politically Credulous as Americans

Here is the AP today:  “Kenya’s tribal ‘O’ factor: Obama, Ocampo, Odinga”.  Apparently it is always easier to believe objectively outlandish things about people who are members of different ethnic groups–no big surprise I suppose.

Perhaps the next thing will be to see Donald Trump start expressing interest in the Kenyan presidential race.

In Kenya a lot of the problem is the degree to which news reporting is skewed by the government and other interests, whereas I think in the U.S. it is more a matter of the crowding out and dumbing down of news by the commercial celebrity culture, and the “narrowcasting” problem whereby people get their news from either opinionated sources conforming to their ideological predispositions or from superficial “he said, she said” reporting that provides nothing except the two adversarial arguments of the usual political combatants, irrespective of facts.  It may be that Kenya is on the upswing in this regard whereas here in the U.S. we are on the downswing.

At least no one in Kenya so far as I know believes Obama was born there.

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.

Warning That U.S. might cave on ICC for Kenya and Sudan

Africa Confidential’s February 4 “free article” titled “Rewards and Realpolitik” should be troubling to those in civil society in Kenya and in the West who, like I do, consider the pending ICC prosecutions in Kenya to be crucial for addressing impunity.

Africa Confidential suggests that the United States and France are giving serious consideration to acting in the U.N. Security Council to agree to defer prosecution of Sudan’s al-Bashir as part of the “carrot” approach endorsed by Envoy Gration and others to try to maximize his cooperation on the split with the South and on Darfur. Reportedly some detailed conversations at high levels of the State Department have taken place. A Sudanese source reportedly says that a deferment for the “crimes against humanity” charges for the six Kenyan suspects would be thrown in as part of a deal with the AU to provide diplomatic cover on accusations of a “double standard”.

Please take time to read the whole detailed article and weigh in if you care about this.

David Throup of CSIS wrote a useful thumbnail overview of the post election violence in Kenya and the underlying ethnic and political tensions. While David was controversial as an outspoken critic of the EU election observation in Kenya, it should be noted that his own calculations as initially discussed publicly in Washington had Kibaki losing the election and claiming victory through fraud, so in that sense he has been part of the overall international consensus regarding the voting. The crucial point is that there were different types of violence that happened for different reasons–thus demanding a differentiated response as reflected in ICC prosecutor Ocampo’s selection of cases to bring forward.

“The International Criminal Court and the Post-Election Violence in Kenya” by David Throup at CSIS’s Online Africa Policy Forum Blog.

Most Kenyans, according to opinion polls by the local press, however, believe that the six named individuals should be prosecuted. They are right–the era of impunity must be ended. Most of those displaced in 2008 still remain in encampments, too frightened to return to their homes. The next election may well be even more closely contested and violent unless a clear message is sent that the era of impunity is over and that perpetrators of violence will either be tried in Kenya’s courts or appear before the International Criminal Court. Both Kalenjin and Kikuyu as Kenyans have the right to live and farm in the Rift Valley and in other parts of the country. As Kenya becomes more ethnically intermixed, ideas of ethnic hegemony and arguably the era of ethnic-politics can no longer be tolerated.

There is, however, one danger. William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta are “big men”. . . The ICC preliminary charges may possibly intensify ethnic identities, uniting the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities in a joint sense of persecution. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are highly regarded in their communities and would constitute a formidable alliance at the next election. The ICC and the international community should proceed with caution and encourage moderate voices which urge compliance in the hope of a better Kenya.

As far as Kenya goes, the perception that Ruto and Kenyatta and associates, with Kibaki’s help, successfully faced down the ICC and the international community generally, seems to me to be about the worst thing that could happen in terms of enshrining impunity and deterring further reform efforts by Kenyan citizens and civil society. Even if the Administration takes the approach of protecting al-Bashir, it would seem especially cowardly to sacrifice Kenya in the mix for the reasons suggested here.

The human rights community in the U.S. seemed to be caught off guard when the Administration issued blanket waivers for countries employing child soldiers, so presumably they will not be complacent now.

Don’t forget how hard Kenya’s politicians are working to hold the country back . . .

While the Sudan referendum and the Ugandan election take center stage, it is important not to forget that Kenya’s parliament is deadlocked on taking the necessary steps to move forward on implementation of the new constitution and that the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission has not been revived. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will be in Nairobi this week for meetings ahead of his planned public submission of request for indictments of key instigators of the 2008 post-election violence (necessitated by the Kenyan leadership’s unwillingness to implement local tribunals).

The Standard reports on more talk by Rift Valley MPs of a Ruto-Uhuru alliance for the 2012 elections. Thus the two most prominently identified suspects in organizing the potion of the post-election violence carried out by private militias would unite.

Capital FM reports that Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for the arrest of gays at a rally Sunday in Kibera.

And the Nation says that it has seen the secret U.S. dossier on Kenyan drug lords:

The report seen by the Nation says Kenya is not only a significant transit country for cocaine, heroin and hashish, but also a money-laundering hub.

“Quantities of heroin and hashish transiting in Kenya, mostly from Southwest Asia bound for Europe and United States have markedly increased in recent years,” the report adds.

The International Narcotics Strategy Report, that reviewed 2009 drug trafficking and money laundering in Kenya, blames lack of resources and rampant corruption for the two vices.

Kenya’s financial system, the report adds, may be laundering more than Sh80 billion ($100 million) each year, including an undetermined amount of drug money and Somali piracy earnings.

It indicates that money laundering continues unabated, despite Parliament passing the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Law, 2009, which was signed by President Kibaki on December 31, 2009.

However, the law has not come into force because the Ministry of Finance has not gazetted its commencement date although the Act indicates that such date shall not exceed six months after the date of assent.
. . . .
The report accused former anti-corruption boss Aaron Ringera, former Police boss Major-General (Rtd) Hussein Ali and the director of Police Training College Peter Kavila of frustrating investigations into the matter. Both have denied the accusations, with Mr Ringera threatening to sue the newspapers for defamation.

Parliament has put the Executive under pressure accusing it of not taking the war on narcotics seriously. MPs are now demanding that names of the senior government officers banned from travelling to the US be made public.

Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh told Parliament on Thursday that he could not reveal the names because he was yet to receive the information from the US embassy.

On Sunday, the envoy declined to comment on the matter. He said he would give an official statement on the matter this week.

Independent sources told the Nation that those affected are three MPs — one each from Coast, Central and Eastern provinces.

“Central Province” leadership, the 2012 Kenyan Presidency, the ICC and the United States

 

The Standard has posted an interesting story on-line for the Sunday paper under the headline: “The hidden battle of class and power in Central Kenya”.

The endorsement of Uhuru Kenyatta as the leader of the Kikuyu by the Minister for Environment, John Michuki, has raised eyebrows but many think there is more to the statement.

Several personalities and political forces are digging in to inherit President Kibaki’s Central Province voting bloc and mantle, which is estimated to be worth four million-plus votes.

However, underlying this succession battle is a simmering rivalry in the politics of class and power that has been playing out for about a century.

Macharia Munene, a professor of history at the United States International University, Nairobi, says this class struggle dates back to colonial times. Then, peasants invented a tradition of resistance against colonialism.

However, a section of Africans, the so-called loyalists, collaborators and homeguards, opted to work for the colonial authorities in exchange for privileges and goodies like education, land, and jobs.

The resistance would culminate in the violent confrontation between the natives coming together under the Mau Mau resistance movement, and the British colonial government.

Central Province saw the most intense action for the seven years the Mau Mau uprising lasted. The relationship and roles of both loyalists and nationalists was more pronounced and hostile in the region than in other areas.

However, at independence, collaborators seized the levers of power and proceeded to economically and politically dominate State affairs, including distribution of resources, opportunities, senior civil service and parastatal jobs.

“Unfortunately, it was the loyalists who were better placed to take over power, having enjoyed cosy relationships with the departing colonial powers, but also having enjoyed privileges like better education than their nationalist brethren,” says Macharia.

Perpetual struggle

It is in this context that Michuki’s statement has re-ignited the twin narrative that has defined Kenya’s and central Kenya politics.

The narrative of one community, two classes in perpetual struggle for political and economic power. It is a context in which a wealthy minority uses its access to political power to increase its economic fortunes at the expense of the majority.

First it was the British colonial settler minority (1895-1963), and then the Kenyan political and economic elite (1963-to date).

The scholar says this elite in central Kenya has dominated regional politics and seeks to succeed Kibaki.

President Kibaki himself was through out the Kenyatta regime considered an outsider. Even in 2002, he only made it to power on the back of a broad and most inclusive political movement the original National Rainbow Coalition and was even abandoned by his erstwhile ally Njenga Karume.

The foremost politician seeking to destabilise the status quo in Central Province is Gichugu MP Martha Karua who has made it clear she would be gunning for president in 2012. Political analysts saw Michuki’s statement as a warning to Karua, whom this vcartel sees as a spoiler.

Former Subukia MP, Koigi Wamwere, says Michuki’s endorsement of Uhuru is an attempt by this economic elite to perpetuate itself.

“Michuki is warning other pretenders to the throne not to dare even try,” Koigi said.

By coincidence I started reading Koigi Wamwere’s autobiography I Refuse to Die during my trip to Washington to the MCC this week, so this is especially topical for me.

As I noted previously, Uhuru Kenyatta has been in New York and Washington of late as Kenya’s Finance Minister, as well as co-Deputy Prime Minister, attending UN and World Bank meetings and advocating for MCC compact status for Kenya. Amos Kimunya was Kibaki’s initial appointment to the Finance Ministry when he named the key cabinet spots during the post-election period. When Kimunya was forced to step aside due to the scandal over the sale of the Grand Regency hotel, Kibaki tapped Michuki, who was then succeeded by Kenyatta.

It’s especially interesting to look at how this plays in relation to the U.S. During the post-colonial heyday of the Cold War of course, the U.S. aligned with Jomo Kenyatta (and reportedly helped fund Tom Mboya covertly while the Soviets reportedly helped fund Oginga Odinga) and KANU “conservatives”, including Moi in his day. The U.S. interests supposedly served were both direct military alliance (access to bases and such) and other security cooperation, and seemingly some sort of ideological alliance based on the notion that the Kenyan model of one party formal “African socialism” involving conservative patronage, and state-created and supported oligarchy was preferable from a U.S. perspective to a version more akin to Nyerere’s or other more traditional, populist or radical “socialisms”.

Since the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall things have been complicated. Smith Hempstone, George H.W. Bush’s political appointment to the Ambassadorship, really stuck his neck out to push democratic reform and made a major contribution to forcing Moi to amend the constitution to allow competing parties, while maintaining military and security cooperation. Hempstone, a former editor of the Washington Times clearly came to the post with U.S. conservative bona fides and was vigorously anti-socialist. At the same time, however, other Americans continued to support Moi. As I noted in a previous post, one of Washington’s leading conservative think tanks generated a pro-Moi position paper in 1990 and Republican consultant and lobbyist Charlie Black and his firm represented Moi on past the first multi-party election in 1992 and into 1993 according to their foreign agent registration filings.

Hempstone believed that supporting democratic ideals, in itself, was a key part of the United States’ proper role in world affairs. In his book Rogue Ambassador: an African Memoir he writes “I told Raila it was untrue that the U.S. would not accept because of his leftist past his father’s election as president if he won freely, fairly, and lawfully. The mistakes of thirty years ago were water over the dam. Raila said he had never believed otherwise.” After Hempstone’s term ended in 1993, however, active U.S. interest in supporting democratic opposition to Moi waned.

Just as Hempstone did not think there were major ideological differences between the opposition candidates in 1992, the USAID officials that I spoke to in the run up to the 2007 election did not see major ideological differences among the opposition contenders or between Raila as ODM nominee and Kibaki. Nonetheless, the U.S. through Ambassador Ranneberger took a pro-Kibaki stance toward the election (this was not just my direct experience “on the ground”, but also the perception of one of America’s leading Africanists and Kenya experts who said on a panel at the African Studies Association last fall that he was convinced that the U.S. had supported Kibaki).

In their January 2009 New York Times story on the exit poll and election controversy, Mike McIntire and Jeffrey Gettleman wrote:

Despite initial economic successes and popular support after his election in 2002, Mr. Kibaki had gained a reputation for playing divisive tribal politics, and his administration had become tainted by scandal. Still, he had a good relationship with the Bush administration and generally supported American counterterrorism policies in East Africa.

Mr. Odinga was viewed skeptically by some in Washington because of his flamboyant manner and his background: he was educated in East Germany and named his son after Fidel Castro.

At the same time, then-Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, now with the Whitaker Group lobby firm and Carnegie Mellon University, was by reputation thought of as close to the Kenyatta family. Uhuru, however, was named in the Waki Commission report on the post-election violence as a suspect in playing a role in supporting revenge attacks by tribal militia and he is said to be likewise a key suspect in the current International Criminal Court investigation on this basis.

Ironically the Washington Times was conspicuous in publishing 2008 attacks on Raila Odinga, and linking him to Obama and the U.S. presidential race. Now, Glenn Beck attacks the new Kenyan constitution and Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich are attacking President Obama for being linked to his father who was of the same “tribe” as Oginga Odinga (even though Obama, Sr. was part of the U.S. government “airlift” to study in the United States while Raila is criticized for having studied in the Eastern bloc).

Looking ahead to a 2012 race in Kenya, during the 2012 race in the United States, if the Kenyan contest comes down to Raila Odinga versus Uhuru Kenyatta, with rich “class” and “tribal” subtexts understood by few Americans, what will the United States and other Americans do officially and unofficially? Will we prioritize democracy?; stability?; some notion of ideological compatibility?; some particular policy objective? And where does the issue of the post-election violence and the ICC fit in?

 

Kenyatta reports frustration with US on aid, but new reports show more corruption problems

From an AP report today, in the Boston Globe:

Kenya’s deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, said he also would like to see more cooperation from the United States on stabilizing Somalia and fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Kenyatta said U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, had said that Kenya could expect more aid through an agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corp. after it pushed through a new constitution.

The constitution was signed in August, but Kenyatta says U.S. development agencies are insisting on evidence of progress in taming corruption.

Kenyatta asked, in his words, “Why do they keep changing the goal posts?”

At the same time, however, the Daily Nation ran a story headlined “Revealed: Fraud and waste of tax billions”:

The government lost billions of shillings from the tax kitty during the 2008/2009, according to the latest Controller and Auditor-General’s report.

Discipline was so poor that ministries spent fortunes and then pushed the bills to the following financial year in the so-called pending bills.

But the biggest scandal is in imprests where government officials are given money for travel, accommodation and other official expenses, which they fail to account for. In the period under review, public officials failed to provide proof of how they spent Sh3.4 billion in imprests.

Paid to fake IDPs

In some cases, the officers could not explain how they spent public money. Some of it was paid to fake internally displaced persons (IDPs) in apparent widespread fraud.

A total of Sh7 billion was poured into funny imprests or nobody can explain how the money was spent.

So prevalent is the imprest abuse and fraud that some of the civil servants have left the service holding the money, meaning that it will never be recovered. The auditor questions why officials were allowed to pile up unaccounted for imprests, even though there were rules on accounting for such funds.

I attended a discussion at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) back in the summer of 2009 with key Kenyan parliamentary leaders–this was the key theme then when I asked a panel what message they would have to Americans interested in being helpful to Kenya: more aid dollars, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation particularly. It seems to me that good governance and limiting corruption have always been understood to be key MCC criteria. Kenya has a lot going for it–a lot of advantages over other poor countries–so why the special pleading? As long as new scandals continue to accrue while the old ones fester unaddressed, it does not seem to me that Kenyan politicians are entitled to be frustrated with the US for not ramping up government-to-government aid expenditures.

Continuing Witness Fears as Ocampo due in Kenya Saturday

ICC Chief Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo will spend five days in Kenya, including visits with victims and to areas most affected by post election violence, and a public question-and-answer session, along with civil society, religious and business groups. He has also offered to meet with those who believe they may be unfairly identified as suspects.

In the meantime, the EU envoys have spoken out against a continuing climate of fear for potential witnesses. A variety of reports indicate a pattern of intimidation and threats against prospective witnesses, and concerns have been raised about leaks of witness identities from within the Kenya National Human Rights Commission which has done much of the initial investigative work on the violence. A former senior official of the Kenyan Administration Police is said to be among those who have fled the country for safety in the absence of an effective witness protection program in Kenya.

The Indian Ocean Newsletter reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta hosted a meeting with Ministers William Ruto and Najib Balala at his Nairobi residence April 4 “to agree their stories for the ICC.”