Kenya Government “pranks” U.S. into reassuring on unrequited “partnership” while suppressing protesters (updated)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kenya’s government is led by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, who barely left KANU in form, and not at all in substance. Not surprisingly, as in the past, protests against the government are in general not allowed and protesters are normally teargassed, beaten and arrested. The fact that this is unlawful behavior by the government does not change the facts on the ground, whether under the 2010 “reform” constitution backed by the United States and the Kenyan voters, or under the old Lancaster House constitution as amended. This was the case during the Kibaki interlude when I lived in Kenya in 2007-08, and it has most certainly been the case during the original Kanu regimes and the current Jubilee revival.

The most recent conspicuous episode was on Thursday, February 13.

For people protesting against the Kenyan government to get the attention of the media they need to engage in something especially catchy beyond the usual shedding tears and blood and getting arrested. Last year, for instance, protesters made international news by releasing pigs in front of parliament to protest the extra-legal raises that the MPs, or “MPigs” were giving themselves. Of course the protesters were teargassed, beaten and arrested, but at least they made the news.

Unfortunately, after the fact the use of the pigs became something of a distraction to the issue of the financial avarice in parliament. Nairobi is a cosmopolitan capital in its own way, and for many, naturally, there is a right way to get teargassed, beaten and arrested, and a wrong way to get teargassed beaten and arrested. Everyone is a lot more used to greedy politicians than to real pigs turned loose in front of parliament. So this time organizers of the February 13 protest assured that they would not use any such animal stunts. (This time they had foam dolls to depict an infantile “diaper mentality”.)

With the build up of publicity and momentum for the announced and pre-cleared protest, the police blinked and announced to the media at the last minute that the protest was purportedly “cancelled” because of unspecified alleged terrorism concerns. Overlapping with this some Kenyan media outlets carried what the Standard headlined: “National Security Advisory Committee Statement on plans to destabilize government”:

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Kenyan Opinion Highlights–five columns of note (updated)

These are four  five recent columns from the Kenyan papers on different aspects of the current malaise in public affairs.  Each makes a general point which I think is of undoubtedly valid, but adds some perspective, analogy or point of fact that struck me as unique and particularly worthy of your attention if you missed it at the time:

“Media bang! NGOs pow! Who’s next?” from Muthoni Wanyeki in The East African.

“We expected better from ‘Defence Force'” from Wycliffe Muga in The Star.

“The Jubilee government’s ‘infantry thinking’ is leading it to intolerance” from Matuma Mathiu in the Daily Nation.

“Religious leaders are letting Kenyans down” from Fr. Gabriel Dolan in the Daily Nation.

“Protect media freedom for development” from Apollo Mboya in the Standard.

Two “must reads” from Kenya ahead of the opening of the PEV trials at the ICC

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“Why Uhuru and Ruto must attend trials in The Netherlands” by George Kegoro in the Daily Nation.

.  .  .  .
I have found possible answers to this question in the record of the first presidential debate that was organised by the Kenyan media in the run-up to the March elections. The moderator, NTV’s Linus Kaikai, explored the question of the trials with Mr Kenyatta against the fact that he was seeking to become president of Kenya. Specifically Mr Kaikai wanted to know how Mr Kenyatta would juggle between attending his trial and the duties of presidency if he was elected to office.

On the night, Mr Kenyatta provided well-considered answers to questions surrounding their cases and the presidential bid. Referring to himself and his running mate Mr Ruto, Mr Kenyatta indicated that “it is our intention to follow through [the cases] and ensure that we clear our names”. He added that he considered accountability before the ICC as a necessary step towards ensuring that the kind of problems that Kenya faced in 2007 would not recur.

In his own words: “At the same time, we are offering ourselves for leadership in this country, a position that we believe and want to pass on to Kenyans, an agenda that will first and foremost ensure that the kind of problems of 2007 are put to an end.”

Asked whether the cases would affect his capacity to run the country, he said, “many Kenyans are faced with personal challenges and I consider this as a personal challenge”.

He said he considered that since personal challenges did not affect the capacity of other people to continue with their day-to-day jobs, they should not prevent him from doing so as well.

On that night, Mr Kenyatta concluded: “I will be able to deal with the issue of clearing my name while at the same time ensuring the business of government is implemented”.

Earlier, during the same debate, in answer to a question about his understanding of the problem of tribalism and how he would be different from Kenya’s first three presidents, Mr Kenyatta answered that “we have a new Constitution now” and added that “my job as president is to ensure that the Constitution is implemented”.
.  .  .  .

Kenya Bus Service (KBS) and Security at Polling Place

“The Eagle Has Landed: Kenya and the ICC” by John Githongo in The Star.

. . . .

. . . History is being made.

The ICC has redefined Kenya’s foreign policy totally and turned domestic politics inside out. Immediately after the post-election violence in 2008, Kenyans were clamouring for the ICC to intervene given the horrors that had just taken place.

Accountability, justice, impunity, reconciliation and other such words were the primary fodder of political discourse as we headed into the referendum on the constitution in 2010. Indeed, it can be argued that even among those most strongly opposed to the new constitutional dispensation, the dark looming cloud of the ICC and all its implications, especially the public mood that accompanied it through 2008 into 2010, all served to soften them up to demonstrate their pro-change, reformist credentials at a time when the country’s leadership and the messy albeit negotiated coalition arrangement was particularly unsatisfactory to the population.

If it hadn’t been for the ICC, perhaps more of the so-called ‘watermelons’ who pretended to support the new constitution while secretly being opposed to it, would have come out into the open with their true position.

.  .  .  .

. . . Parts of the Kenyan population are in just such a trap: caught between our preaching about and, yes, belief in, good governance and accountability; and its realities when brought to bear in our tribalised, politicised and fragmented political economy. Grimly put – ‘it hurts like hell when it is my tribesman who is being held accountable’. It hurts so much it leads to some of the most gibbering rationalisations of absurdity possible.

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I am concerned that a move by the ICC to try Uhuru, Ruto and Sang “locally” would needlessly cost additional lives

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The Kenyan government, after years of lack of success in its various diplomatic efforts to block the ICC prosecutions of key figures in the political killings involved with the 2007-08 elections, achieved a potential breakthrough at the most recent AU meeting in Addis.  By getting a section of African strongmen and politicians to agree that the ICC shoe that they had promised to wear was pinching too tightly when it was not deferring to them as Heads of State as opposed to only pursuing lessor suspects out of power, the Government of Kenya raised the stakes for those nations that advocate a law-based international order and for the ICC as the only institution that remains with any potential to substantively express any tangible disapproval of the post-election murder and mayhem in Kenya in 2007-08.

It is in this context that the ICC will have to decide whether or not to accept a panel recommendation to move the trials from The Hague to Kenya or Tanzania.

Let me say that I am no fan of the decision to locate the ICC in The Hague in the first place.  Nothing against the Dutch and I do understand that The Hague has symbolism as a seat of the international law of nations.  Of course the criminal trials of individuals is something quite different and if anything in some ways undercut by the association.  We are confronted now with a situation in which the indictees have taken power in a member state–in a campaign initiated in the context of their defense to the ICC charges–and wish to avoid trial by mutating the individual criminal charges into a matter of the international relations of sovereign states.

So by all means move the Court to Botswana or Belize or some other more suitable location when it becomes logistically rational to do so, but these trials are supposed to be about the loss of life and limb in the “extra-electoral” context of the Kenyan fight for political power and it makes no sense to physically conduct the trial in such a way as to put more lives in the same type of jeopardy.

First, as a general proposition, witnesses against the President and Deputy President will never be able to live in safety in Kenya for any time in the foreseeable future after being identified and choosing to testify (they may wish to accept the danger of living in Kenya after testifying but this should not be asked or expected of them); this is the cold reality that should be readily evident to anyone who has paid attention to politics in Kenya over the years.  If it is understood that witnesses cannot testify in Kenya then why split up the trials over more than one location?  This process has already taken too long to no one’s benefit and supposedly the ICC has problems with resources and funding and a big backlog of cases already.

Second, estimates of the loss of life related to the most recent Kenyan elections with all priority on “peace” or stability over all else were still more than 500 people.  The police made extra-legal pronouncements restricting lawful civic expression and assembly; the country was basically shut down, the military was deployed and people were shot for breaking no law.  A trial in Kenya would be extremely expensive and quite dangerous by any informed reckoning.  The suspects on trial would be in charge of the “security” forces.  How many innocent lives will be lost for this?  No one can know ahead of time but it is grossly irresponsible not to count on some people who have no role in the trials dying for holding them in Kenya.

The whole point of the ICC is that it is “international”.  Thirty three other nations in Africa beside Kenya are members.  The reason for these cases being at the ICC was the tactical decision to vote in the “duly elected” Kenyan Parliament to “don’t be vague, go to The Hague.”  If “The Hague” no longer has the stomach for this, they should declare now that the task is too hard and walk away and make clear that Kenya, in spite of the work of the Waki Commission arising out of the AU-sponsored 2008 post-election settlement and the vote of its own parliament, is a zone of impunity, at least for suspects who arise above a political ceiling on potential accountability.  Otherwise, these trials need to be brought to fruition and be heard and appealed and done with purposeful speed and as few diversions as feasible.

We all know that the crimes alleged happened.  We saw them and heard them and see and feel their effects today.  Those of us who lived through this time in Kenya heard various bits and pieces of the details as these things were happening.  If the suspects or any of them are tried and acquitted then anyone who believes that they are in fact innocent of the roles alleged can celebrate that and all of us can finally mourn justice for these crimes along with the dead.

“The West” is not a Country either–the U.S. and U.K. do not have the same interests in Kenya

The Star reports that:

President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to hold talks with UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron during his three day visit, the first to a western capital since his election.

Human rights activists in the UK are reportedly organising to hold demonstrations to protest what they say is a ‘hypocritical manner’ manner in which the British government has made a U-turn against in its stand towards the Kenyan government.

In the U.K., unlike in the U.S., the Kenyan election stirred a significant discussion in the national legislature, in this case the House of Commons. Here is the link to the Hansard or transcript from March 20.

The biggest difference in interests is that Kenya, a British colony within the lifetimes of current political leaders, is important to the British economy. Kenya is not very important to the U.S. economy. It might be someday, and the U.S. would notionally like to be more engaged economically in East Africa, and not only because the Chinese are; nonetheless, as of today the level of trade and investment is not a higher order immediate interest for the United States.

Further, in the global system that the U.S. has helped create, the U.S. does not really have the same relationships to even the largest companies that may be headquartered in the U.S. as the British and some other European nations still have with their business champions. Not to say that the State Department doesn’t want to sell Boeing v. Airbus, but there is no American equivalent of BAE, for example. Further, it is British rather than American companies that are the key players in Kenya in banking and finance, tea, horticulture, tobacco, printing, public relations consulting, etc.

As of the last few years, roughly 60% of the roughly 5,000 Americans living in Kenya, according to the State Department, were connected to missionary work. The British, not as much as far as I know. Moreover, there are perhaps five times as many British passport holders in Kenya as Americans.

The United States has a reported official established presence of more than two dozen federal agencies in Kenya, so we do have interests, but they are heavily weighted toward “global” security matters, along with international crime/drugs, etc., and what we might call diplomatic and security logistics. In other words, it is convenient for people to locate in and transit out of Nairobi to support a variety of functions that don’t relate uniquely to Kenya. Its an easier place to fly in and out of and has lifestyle appeal, along with being a locus of the same type of thing for people in other agencies, from other governments and international organizations. It is not that this geographic interest doesn’t matter, its just that it really is not of first order importance. A lot of the aid programs that we conduct in Kenya could easily be moved to other countries that are even more in need if less convenient, for instance.

When al Qaeda wanted to attack Americans and U.S. interests in East Africa, they bombed our Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania–not some critical infrastructure or something or someplace else that the Embassies are there to protect.

Kenya is a tourist destination with direct flights of modest duration from the U.K., but still no U.S. direct flights. In the U.S., Kenya is on the tourism “map” along with other various other locations in Africa, but at a much lower relative level; the British are Kenya’s greatest source of tourists. The British newspapers cover Kenya in a completely different way, and to a much greater extent, than American papers.

I have referred to Kenya as Americans’ favorite African country, but this is within the context of the whole “Africa is a Country” perception problem. It was one of the British princes who had the bad form to be quoted to the effect that “Americans don’t do geography”. The British still know their way around their former empire and distinguish Kenya from its neighbors much more readily than do Americans.

Certainly the British MPs wax eloquent about the key importance of training the British military in Kenya, noting that this was said to have played a major role in allowing Britain to mount its Falklands Islands operations some thirty years ago. Of course, realistically, the UK military in this century is primarily derivative and it is hard to see that the world would be so much different if the British had to train in one of the other former colonies–the U.S. for instance–instead of in Kenya. Military training in Kenya is surely good for British political and military morale, but i think it is the economic issues that really make Kenya uniquely important for the UK, whereas for the U.S. the scales tip overwhelming to the “security” direction.

Obviously the International Criminal Court is another area of difference. The British are members, along with other Western European nations, whereas the U.S. is with the Chinese and Russians in standing outside (whether we are nominally favorable or nominally derogatory seems to depend on which of our parties is in power but we seem to have a fixed commitment to stay out). In this sense, the election of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto is in one particular respect inconvenient for the British in a way that is not as challenging for the United States, but given the ordinary primacy of the specific over the general, and the immediate dollar or pound over longer term security in democratic politics, it is not really surprising that the UK has been more aggressive and quicker in seeking publicly to “get right” with Uhuru Kenyatta following his elevation to the Kenyan Presidency than has the United States.

At Easter, chicks come home to roost for U.S. for helping to underwrite impunity in Kenya; but “we” do not need Uhuruto

The United States looked the other way on a stolen 2007 election in Kenya.

Even though our Ambassador himself saw the changed tally forms at the Electoral Commission in Nairobi. We supported a “settlement” that created a temporary prime minister spot, without defined authority, for the apparent winner (not only did the exit poll done at the instance of the Ambassador and funded by USAID show a substantial win for the opposition candidate Odinga, but a separate State Department analysis in January concluded “advantage Raila.”).  “We” nonetheless called on Kenyans to accept the “results”. While we withdrew our congratulations to Kibaki and later asserted that we did not know who won, we were not willing to be publicly honest about what “we” had seen at the ECK as well as what else we did know.

To help pressure for a settlement, we eventually issued “visa ban” letters to three members of the Electoral Commission on the basis of evidence of bribery–but we never revealed this fact or the evidence–it only came to light through stolen cables published in the Daily Nation years later.

We rejected accountability for election theft–thus supporting impunity in this regard.  We supported, in concept, justice for the the post-election killings and mayhem. We had a hybrid position; let’s call it “limited, modified impunity”. Of course, the reality is that our supposed solution of “local tribunals” in Kenya for the post-election violence was always a complete pipe dream under the “power sharing” government we helped broker because that government was never going to implement any such thing.

Thus the role of the International Criminal Court as a last resort due to the initiative of the commission led by Justice Waki to provide the names to the ICC as a fallback.  We should pat ourselves on the back, I suppose, for helping to pay for the commission at least. Likewise, we have over the subsequent years now declined to go along with the aggressive activities of the Government of Kenya in requesting action from the UN Security Council to squelch the ICC’s prosecution, so we have at least refused to stand in the way of the ICC.  At the same time, we haven’t seemed to accomplish anything very noticeable on the protection of witnesses and the other core issues that enshrine impunity in Kenya.

Now, just like in 2007, we have helped pay for another flawed election, this time one which has ended up with a victory for the ticket of “Uhuruto” composed of the two leading politicians charged by the ICC for allegedly having key responsibility for the instrumental political killings of 2008. While it appears plausibly that Uhuruto on March 4 had a higher percentage of support than did Kibaki in 2007, it is also clear that there were substantial irregularities in the handling of the election, over a period of many months, by the “new and improved” IEBC–which was in fact caught even within the Kenya government itself, engaging in unlawful procurement corruption in regard to key technology–technology which was supposed to provide safeguards against the shambolic 2007 tallying process, but failed to be deployed or work.

So after an extraordinary sum of perhaps $240M was spent on an election with only somewhere around 14M registered voters (not sure exactly how many since the register was a series of 33,400 separate paper print outs which were reported by the IEBC to be unavailable for review in the Supreme Court)–we ended up with the same manual count fiasco as in 2007.  More system purchases were more opportunities to “eat”, not more reliability.

The IEBC was perceived as being corrupted on both sides instead of stacked completely only on one side like the ECK last time–but there was no one individual trusted like Kivuitu to let everyone down this time. In one respect that helped diffuse the prospect of violence because the voters this time were much more subdued and had lower expectations–and knew what could happen. And there were some other things different this time based on lower expectations from the “international community”–the observer groups spoke out early to bless the IEBC before it was anywhere close to completing its tally and gave it some cover for whatever it would chose to do. Last time, only IRI really did that–and it was rightly criticized for doing so as the count became problematic.  This time, private conversation before the election about what to say hearkened back to what observers had said in the first full blown observations of Kenya’s first multi-party elections in 1992 under Moi–the terminology “reflects the will of the Kenyan people” as a way to say the process run by the Government of Kenya could not stand scrutiny but the official candidate had a plurality anyway. The difference being that this time Kenyans had passed a new Constitution that was supposed to end the old first-past-the-post system in favor of a runoff-to-majority that meant that the opposition did not have to unite behind one candidate ahead of time to have any chance against a minority candidate supported by the State.

The U.S. knew, and Kibaki and his supporters, including Uhuru Kenyatta, knew that in 2007 we gave the Government of Kenya a pass on election rigging.  This time we didn’t step in and blow the whistle on procurement corruption or otherwise as the process moved towards its unsuccessful conclusion–and we gave the powers that be in Kenya no real reason so far as I know to believe that we had really changed the terms of the deal from 2007.

Now we have another incoherent vote count, but everyone is relieved that major violence did not erupt.  The new Electoral Commission argued to the Supreme Court that the Court could not set aside the IEBC’s pronounced premature results on the basis of the irregularities that had been revealed so far, or the known uncertainties, because to do so would create a constitutional crisis–the only way to have another election would be to use the same flawed register and the same flawed Electoral Commission itself.  In other words, the Court did not, according to the IEBC, really have the power to challenge its work and its decision which was now fait accompli.  The Court announced its ruling–at the last allowable moment (a few hours later than the two weeks permitted if it were as strict with itself as it was with those before it)–yet could not muster any explanation or reasoning whatsoever.  It declared itself to have the power, and to be exercising it, to ratify the IEBC’s result, but either couldn’t agree on why or was not comfortable saying until a future date–after the swearing in.

The bottom line here is that the United States has been helping to underwrite failure in Kenya for too long.  We got taken for a ride–again.  We ought to have more self respect.

The British government has groveled to “get right” with an incoming Uhuruto administration, but we simply do not need to do so.

We provide a disproportionate amount of aid to Kenya–officially roughly a Billion U.S. Dollars each year–unofficiallly I am sure there is more; not to mention extensive private aid that also helps alleviate the suffering of Kenyans left adrift by the corruption and bad priorities of their governments.  As far as I can see, we spend a lot of money in Kenya for sentimental rather than legitimate programmatic reasons.  And the restaurants and resorts are more upscale and Kenya is more oriented for tourism accompanying official travel and postings.  But a lot of the tourist infrastructure is owned by the Kenyatta and Moi families themselves.  We ought to grow up and take our responsibilities more seriously.

What has all this spending been adding up to aside from bad elections?  Kenya’s Human Development Index score for 2000 was .513 for a “Medium Human Development” ranking of 134th among the scored countries.  The 2012 score was .519, for a rank of 145th.  Among the 45 “Low Human Development” countries Kenya stands out, along with Zimbabwe for having by far the highest “Mean Years of Schooling”.  Yes, from 2000 to 2012 Kenya’s GDP per capita increased by roughly fifty percent–it just didn’t result in much relative overall human development progress for the country as a whole.

The Cold War has been over for almost 25 years.  What we have been doing has not been working very well and we can do better.

What does Kenya’s High Court ruling on the civil society challenge to Uhuru and Ruto eligibility for election say about the state of Kenya’s judiciary?

The Nairobi media reporting is a bit garbled but the gist of things is that the Kenyan High Court (as opposed to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court) has dismissed a petition filed some months ago by civil society groups, including significantly the Kenyan Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists, challenging the eligibility of many of the candidates for President of Kenya on the basis of the “integrity” provisions of the new Kenyan Constitution.

Almost 13 months ago I posted that it was time for Kenya’s judicial system to answer the question posed regarding the application of these constitutional provisions to the candidacy of those facing confirmed charges from the International Criminal Court.  Unfortunately, even though the election has ended up being set for a delayed date, the Kenyan court system has still managed to let the clock seemingly run out without reaching any clarity or finality, such that the election is expected to proceed with the “Uhuruto” ticket on the ballot.

Without having a copy of an opinion yet, from the media reports, the High Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the challenge because the constitution vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Supreme Court over challenges involving the nomination and election to the presidency and that further the jurisdiction of the Kenyan courts and ICC was concurrent and with the ICC case proceeding only the ICC could bar the indictees from running for office.

As an American rather than Kenyan lawyer, and having not read the opinion, I don’t want to go too far into the details here, but I would note that (1) Ruto as opposed to Uhuru is no longer running for president, so the practical question now for his eligibility is distinguishable; (2) the High Court has original jurisdiction to interpret the provisions of the constitution, which seems to me to clearly be the issue here–as opposed to a more ordinary nomination or election challenge which would seem to me to be a more plain way to interpret the various constitutional provisions as a whole.

Here is a long quote from the Daily Nation story “Jubilee, Cord plaud ruling on eligibility case”:

Mr Odinga on his part said he respected the ruling saying that the court had held that in matters relating to the presidential election, the Supreme Court had ‘exclusive and original jurisdiction.’

“I have repeatedly said that my main competitor should have the opportunity to face me in a free and fair election whose outcome is determined by the people of Kenya,” said Mr. Odinga upon hearing of the Court’s decision.

But Restore and Build Kenya (RBK) presidential candidate Prof James Ole Kiyiapi accused the judges of failing to give Kenyans directions on matters of integrity.

“By declaring that they lack jurisdiction, Kenyan courts have failed to give the country direction on matters of integrity as outlined in chapter six of the constitution,” he stated.

The five High court judges – Mbogholi Msagha, Luka Kimaru, George Kimondo, Pauline Nyamweya and Hellen Omondi – dismissed a petition filed by civil society groups challenging Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto;s suitability to run for the presidency and deputy presidency as they face serious crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Judges ruled that despite the serious nature of the crimes facing Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto at the ICC, they are still presumed innocent until the contrary happens.

“It is common knowledge the two have been indicted but since Kenyan courts and the ICC are of concurrent jurisdiction, we cannot adjudicate over the same matter. Only the ICC can bar them to run for public office,” ruled the judges.

They ruled that the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear any petition relating to presidential candidates’ nomination.

So I tend to agree with Prof. Ole Kiyiapi that the High Court has ducked the issue and left a real lack of clarity as to the meaning of the constitution.  The problem is appeals and further proceedings are now unlikely to have time to be resolved before March 4.

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.

. . . .

 

ICC Proceedings–Kenya cases trial dates to be set before July 13; likely for soon after 2013 election

Tom Maliti’s report on Monday’s ICC proceedings in the ICC Kenya Monitor

Presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki of Trial Chamber V announced the decision today after listening to the prosecution, defense, and victims’ lawyers make their submissions during a meeting to discuss a trial date and other preliminary matters ahead of hearings in the first Kenya case. Judge Ozaki said the trial chamber will issue its decision in writing before the court breaks for its summer recess, which starts on July 13.

The decision was in reference to the first Kenya case only as a similar meeting is set for Tuesday to discuss the details of the second Kenya case. However, the practice of the pre-trial, trial, and appeal chambers has been to issue simultaneously important decisions concerning both Kenya cases.

Read the whole report for interesting details about the respective positions of the parties and comments from the Court.

Time to move on a decision on Uhuru and Ruto eligibility to run for president . . .

The slow grind of the cumbersome ICC process has finally reached the point now, four years after the post-election violence, that charges should be “confirmed” against Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. And of course the suspects have appealed this preliminary step in the march toward a possible trial as early as sometime in 2013. In the meantime Uhuru and Ruto are offering themselves to save the country from a Raila Odinga presidency in the latest campaign which is already the primary focus of the political elite with an election date that can be expected to take place before the accused finally face trial for “crimes against humanity”.

Kenya’s judicial branch should address and answer in short order the question of whether or not those facing “confirmed” ICC charges of “crimes against humanity” are eligible to run for, and be elected and sworn in as, President of Kenya prior to being convicted. The suspects will be campaigning in the meantime, and the longer it goes on the more dangerous it becomes–and if there is to be no relief from the Kenyan courts, Kenyans deserve to know now rather than later.

Muthoni Wanyeki explains in the East African why Uhuru and Ruto must not be allowed to run for the presidency:

Kenyans are tired of being thrown the sops of reforms (even reforms we desperately wanted) in lieu of individual, personal responsibility for wrongdoing by politicians and public officers. We’ve had enough.

The relative good behaviour we’ve seen from the suspects since the ICC’s intervention is a testament to this fact. Accountability works. The fear of consequence works.

So we must insist that, pending a determination of innocence, they not be allowed to vie for elective office either.

The Sunday Nation has the latest from the campaign trail:

The impending trial of four Kenyans at the International Criminal Court is likely to be a pivotal issue in the next General Election with two of the accused already showing their intention to turn it into a referendum on the trials.

At the rallies they addressed in Eldoret on Friday and in Kiambu on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto painted the race to succeed President Kibaki as a battle to stop Prime Minister Raila Odinga from ascending to the presidency.

That emotive pitch to their supporters in their respective backyards is likely to provide the key story line of the succession battle in the months to come.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, who have both said they will be running for president, are in a loose alliance of politicians identified with their opposition to Mr Odinga.

However, they have yet to find a formula to pick one candidate to run against the PM.

The duo have consistently attempted to cast the PM as having something to do with the trials, although they have not provided proof for their claims. (READ: Uhuru blames violence on Raila)

Political analyst Karuti Kanyinga warns that such mobilisation could easily take the country back to the dark days of 2007.

Prof Kanyinga points out that the efforts by politicians to use the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an election issue threatens stability.

“The continuing mobilisation of communities and grouping of leaders along ethnic lines is a stark reminder that this can easily push the country to the precipice,” he says.

“The offhand attitude of the leaders towards the ICC ruling and a similarly cavalier attitude to the new Constitution and its institutions are likely to fail the country yet again.”

On Saturday, a group of ODM MPs defended the Prime Minister against attacks by MPs allied to Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto.

Assistant minister Alfred Khangati said these individuals were being dishonest because most of them had supported the ICC process in Parliament.

“They were loud in saying let’s go to The Hague and now they are accusing Mr Odinga of scheming for the downfall of some of those whose charges have been confirmed by the court,” Mr Khangati said during the burial of Paul Luyali Khaniri, brother to assistant minister George Khaniri at Kapsotik in Vihiga. . . .

Here is an assessment of the legal and political dynamics of determining the candidate eligibility question from The African.org Blog of the Institute for Strategic Studies:

At the moment, the mood of Kenyans about their suitability or eligibility for presidency are mixed. Whilst a section of Kenyans argue that they can contest, a good section of people hold the view that the named presidential hopefuls need not even attempt it because the ruling questions their integrity for the post of presidency. The possibility of a legal battle ensuing is thus very high in the event of any attempt to bar them from contesting in the next elections and would require legal and academic brains to scrutinise all the laws of the land in search of legislation that may bar or exonerate the two. Already there are on-going debates about the section of the new constitution that may hold the key to prevent them from vying for presidency. Within the growing debate, chapter six of the new constitution has been prominently quoted in this regard.

The chapter provides for leadership, integrity and specifically requires state officers to bring “honour to the nation and dignity to the office”, and to “promote public confidence in the integrity of the office.” It also outlines the guiding principles of leadership and integrity to include “personal integrity, competence and suitability.” Within the interpretation of this provision, the real contention may emerge around the definition of integrity and its immediate relevance to the context of the ICC. A section of Kenyans have already begun arguing that the provision for integrity relates to economic crimes and not cases such as the ICC thus preparing the ground for what appears to be an emerging heated debate. Another key issue, which will need to be resolved, relates to whether confirmation of charges necessarily constitutes guilt against the backdrop that in reading out the ruling, Judge Trendafilova emphasised that the burden of prove of guilt lies on the prosecutor should the trial commence.

In the event of a court ruling barring or permitting the two to contest the presidency, the emerging culture of constitutionalism and rule of law will be certainly tested as well. Already, the respect surrounding the High Court ruling on the date for the next election has raised hopes about the rule of law, respect for the supremacy of the new constitution, and the independence of the emerging structures of the state. If a court decision bars the two from contesting in the presidency and all avenues for redress get fully utilised, they may probably take the matter to the “courts” of public opinion which may end up securitizing the sensitivities surrounding the loyalty of people them. However, given the stern warning by the Judge during the ruling against inciting people, their leverage in exploiting the passions of ardent supporters is dealt a huge blow.