Root causes of Kenya’s problems

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

While President Mwai Kibaki will be remembered as the man who bungled an election so badly that the winner will never be known, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has the dubious distinction of inciting ethnic cleansing in full view of the media.

The 2007 elections were the first under a Kibaki presidency. The 2002 polls that got him into power were organized under the tenure of former president Daniel arap Moi. The maladministration of the 2007 elections by Kibaki makes former president Moi look like a Swiss democrat – which he is not.

President Kibaki lost his supporters for failing to protect them from marauding ethnic militias. According to the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence, chaired by Justice Philip Waki, the government knew in advance that ethnic violence would erupt in parts of Kenya regardless of who won the 2007 elections. No action was taken and the result is at least 1,000 dead and hundreds of thousands unable to return home.

But then, this was not the first of Kibaki’s blunders and neither will it be the last. Kibaki won the 2002 elections under the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), a movement uniting most of Kenya’s politicians. Within one year, NARC was dead thanks to his moribund leadership. A politician who turns hope into despair can hardly be described as inspirational.

The disappearances and killings of thousands of Kenyans especially in the past two years is another cause of anger among Kenyans. Thousands of men and women have been grabbed from their homes in Nairobi, Central Province, Mount Elgon, Mandera and the Coast. The youths were tortured, killed and their bodies dumped in the bushes to be devoured by wild animals.

At the coast, Kenyan citizens were abducted from their homes by security forces and secretly flown to Ethiopia allegedly for sponsoring terrorism. Even the Ethiopians admitted that there was no evidence against the Kenyans but it took over a year for the Kenyan government to facilitate their return to the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga shares responsibility with Kibaki for Kenya’s woes. His personality-based battle for the presidency directly and indirectly led to the deaths of thousands of Kenyans.

A five year presidential campaign based on agitation against the Kikuyu ethnic group largely contributed to the violence that rocked the country after the 2007 elections. Between 2003 and 2007, Raila blamed the Kikuyu for his problems with President Kibaki. Diplomats, free from the delusion of reform espoused by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), say the party was mostly an anti-Kikuyu alliance.

At the Coast, Rift Valley and Western provinces, Raila’s and ODM blamed poverty on the presence of Kikuyu settlers and business people. Unfortunately, poor rural youth believed the propaganda and voted for ODM in large numbers expecting to get land, shops, jobs and business opportunities. During the 2007 campaigns, Raila referred to the Kikuyu as ‘the enemy.’

As Raila was busy lighting ethnic fires, his first born son got engaged to a Kikuyu woman. Another son of Raila’s is close to a grandson of the late President Jomo Kenyatta and buddies with the son of a former top detective – all Kikuyu. Raila Odinga has gone into joint business with prominent Kikuyu personalities.

The other characters who comprise Kenya’s ruling elite are not any better. Most of them are linked to corruption scandals and ethnic incitement. Others are afflicted by poor character. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka supported ODM’s ethnic-based campaign until he left the party a few months to the election. William Ruto has been implicated in ethnic violence and could easily find himself at the International Criminal Court. Musalia Mudavadi is widely viewed as a spineless politician whose claim to glory is his family name.

Uhuru Kenyatta, son of founding president Jomo Kenyatta, has also been blamed for ethnic violence and could end up alongside William Ruto at The Hague.

Politicians who wanted to form an Opposition to challenge President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila have been accused of hoarding millions of bags of maize, thereby driving up prices for the staple food. Incidentally, the politicians got approval from the Agriculture Ministry – headed by William Ruto.

Its not enough for legislators to decide to pay taxes and assume that Kenyans will be happy. The tax issue is a mere manifestation of a much bigger problem of impunity and lack of respect for the people. Even if the politicians succumbed to pressure and paid taxes, they will find another means of exploiting Kenyans.

Kenya does not have credible leaders at the current moment. The nation needs a complete change in leadership. None of the current crop of leaders should ever be allowed to hold any position anywhere in the republic. Kenyan leaders have reached the end of their usefulness: they cannot produce new ideas, but will merely recycle ethnic garbage to divide and conquer Kenyans.

Kenyan leaders are not for the prosperity of the people but are interested in pursuing the status quo of privilege for the few. That explains why government appointments only benefit their family and friends. The President, Prime Minister and cabinet ministers have filled the government with their brothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, cousins and grand children.

Giant cabinet fails over Waki Report

Kenya’s giant 42-member cabinet failed this week to discuss a judicial report implicating its members in violence that killed 1,500 people.

A Cabinet meeting called by President Mwai Kibaki on Thursday was widely expected to decide a government position regarding the report. Currently, the coalition parties – Kibaki’s PNU, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM and the Vice President’s ODM-K – are split on what to do about Judge Philip Waki’s recommendations.

The Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) was formed as part of the peace agreement between Kibaki and Raila following disputed elections in December 2007. Violence between their supporters resulted in 1,500 dead and close to half a million homeless.

CIPEV has implicated at least six close allies of the President and Prime Minister in the violence, which involved lynchings, hackings, gang rapes and mutilation.

The suspected ethnic warlords in the cabinet have denounced the Waki Report. So strong was the backlash in ODM that a split was imminent after party leader Prime Minister Raila Odinga, supported prosecution for planners of violence. In this, the Prime Minister was seen as pre-occupied with the Naivasha violence where people from his Luo ethnic group were attacked. Apparently, Raila did not realize that in calling for prosecution for Naivasha violence, he would inevitably open the door for ODM supporters elsewhere to face justice over crimes against humanity.

ODM Members of Parliament openly defied their leader as they closed ranks to protect their own. Meanwhile, PNU initially dismissed the report for recommending trials for supporters of President Kibaki. The Waki Report says that a meeting was held at State House to plot the Naivasha attacks but PNU and Kibaki deny such a meeting took place. As PNU puts it, the chaos at Naivasha and Nakuru was retaliation by the Kikuyu for similar violence targetting their kinsfolk in ODM strongholds.

As so many of Kenya’s politicians are implicated in the post election violence, its beginning to appear that a government-led prosecution will be difficult to commence. In effect, the government would be prosecuting itself.

However, the Waki Report has a self-activating mechanism: Should the Kenyan government fail to act by December, the task of prosecuting Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders will automatically fall under the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Already, media reports quote the ICC’s chief prosecutor saying he is ready for the work.

Many of the displaced are yet to return to their former homes as ethnic tension persists in the countryside. Its not only the victims of violence that want justice. There are fears that without punishment for inciters of ethnic cleansing, worse troubles are in store for the country. The next General Election is due in 2012 and presidential campaigns have already began along ethnic lines.

Kenya’s politicians are reportedly having sleepless nights as they await what is described as the “Hague Express.”

Kenyan politicians will face trial

By the Daily Nation

As Kenyan politicians resist moves to pay taxes, the International Criminal Court has warned that it will take over the cases of the names contained in a secret envelope handed to Kofi Annan.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said if Kenya failed to try the suspects of post-election violence, then the court will move in to start investigations and prosecute those involved.

If the Government starts the implementation process from tomorrow, it has up to February 28 to enact the laws and form a local tribunal. However, if it fails to start the process, the envelope will automatically be handed over to the ICC on March 1 – the end of the 135-day timetable contained in the Waki report.

More on this story from the Daily Nation >>

Media reprieve for Kenyan politicians

With saturation coverage of Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential election, Kenyan politicians must be breathing easy as attention is focused away from them.

And with unfolding events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the media has moved its focus from the 33 tanks held by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Clearly, General Laurent Nkunda is a much more flamboyant character than the faceless pirates of Somalia.

For sure, the past one week was a godsend for Kenyan personalities whose names feature in the Waki Report. It was no longer necessary to hold press conferences and rallies to defend their names as the media – and Kenyans at large – were simply not interested as Obamania swept the world.

As excitement with Obama’s victory recedes, Kenyans will refocus their attention on their quasi-leaders. The approaching tsunami sparked by the Waki Report is producing aftershocks as civil society and religious leaders call for its full implementation. Diplomats from the United States and Europe have also supported the recommendations of the Waki Report.

Politicians led by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have stated that they will not implement the Waki Report. Why? Because they and their supporters will find themselves in jail for the rest of their lives after answering charges for murder, rape, incitement to violence, arson and genocide. At the very least, Kenya’s rulers fear being shunted out of the mainstream as a new crop of clean leaders emerge to fill the inevitable void carved out by the Waki recommendations.

Waki proposed that the perpetrators of violence that rocked Kenya early this year be brought to face the wheels of justice. According to Waki, violence in Kenya is a consequence of years of impunity where people commit crimes and walk around freely.

The most blatant cases of impunity were those related to ethnic clashes between 1992 and 1997 and whose deaths have never been documented for fear of antagonizing perpetrators, most of whom were in powerful government posts.

Out of political sensitivity, Waki declined to name the principle suspects in the violence. He handed a secret list of ten names to former United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan. It is this secret list that has gotten Kenyan politicians breaking into a cold sweat.

Politicians who just a few months ago were urging Western nations to intervene in Kenya’s politics are now playing the sovereignty card. President Mwai Kibaki, who supported prosecution has changed his mind after his ethnic and business partners were linked to the chaos. People who, in January, dismissed the Kenyan judiciary as incapable of delivering justice now say that there is no need for an international tribunal because our courts are competent enough.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has made several flip-flops of his own. Initially, he was opposed to prosecution but after the Waki Report was released, Raila supported trials for perpetrators of violence. In his statements, Raila recalled the Naivasha attacks where members of his Luo tribe were attacked by the Kikuyu ethnic group, which supported Kibaki. However, Raila eventually realized that the formation of a political crimes tribunal would affect his own supporters in the Rift Valley province.

Rift Valley MPs, many of whom were implicated in violence, say that they were responding to Raila’s urging for country wide protests and that Raila should also face prosecution as ODM leader.

The drama gets more intriguing because the terms governing the Waki Report state that if the Kenyan government fails to conduct trials, the matter will automatically move to the International Court at the Hague. Kenyan politicians will have no say over the international court’s proceedings unlike those of local courts.

Judge Philip Waki led a Commission of Inquiry to investigate violence that followed disputed elections in December 2007. Supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his ODM party clashed with security forces and ethnic groups loyal to President Mwai Kibaki. Over 1,000 people died in the clashes. Half a million were evicted from their homes by gangs linked to politicians.

Reformers in Kenya believe that implementing the Waki Report is the best way of peacefully getting rid of a political class that has run the country into the ground. The alternative would be bloody revolt by a citizenry pushed to the limits.

Raila, Kalonzo reject Waki Report

BY Michael Mumo and Bernard Momanyi (Capital FM)

The Waki report on post-poll violence got further bashing on Thursday, after Prime Minister Raila Odinga beat a hasty retreat and led 75 Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs in rejecting it.

Mr Odinga, who has been vocal in pressing for the full implementation of the report, chaired a four-and a-half hour ODM parliamentary group meeting which declared that the report had “incurable errors, defects and fundamental constitutional contradictions.”

The Prime Minister sat to the right of the Parliamentary Group Secretary Ababu Namwamba as he read out the statement. Mr Namwamba said contents of the secret envelope that was handed over to the chief mediator of the Kenya peace talks former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan could not be subjected to legal proceedings or investigation within or outside Kenya.

“ODM being part of the coalition government will resist and stop any rendition or surrender of Kenya citizens to a tribunal outside its territory as the national jurisdiction and national systems have not collapsed.”

The position taken by ODM came barely hours after the American and German Ambassadors urged President Kibaki and Mr Odinga to implement the Waki report in full as a way of ending the culture of impunity in Kenya.

But speaking elsewhere, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka appeared to take the same route as ODM, saying report should not be implemented in full since it would open up wounds that had started to heal.

Mr Musyoka said it was regrettable that several people were killed during the post-election violence but warned that if careers of politicians implicated in the violence were destroyed it would be detrimental to the healing process in the country.

More on this story from Capital FM news >>

Rejection by Kenya’s government of the Waki Report on post election violence is likely to cause discontent among a public eager to see justice amidst rising ethnic tension sparked by a fractious ruling elite.

The Commission of inquiry into Post Election Violence implicated senior politicians allied to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in ethnic clashes that killed over 1,000 Kenyans early this year. The violence was a result of disputed elections between Kibaki and Raila. International mediation efforts led by Koffi Annan brokered a coalition between the two in March. However, blame over the violence continues.

The Commission was chaired by judge Philip Waki who recommended the prosecution before an international tribunal of all politicians linked with ethnic incitement and financing of the clashes.

Giant cabinet in panic over ethnic clashes

Kenya’s giant cabinet is paralyzed in panic as a judicial report on ethnic clashes implicates key allies of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Judge Waki declined to name the politicians in his report but the suspects are widely known, both within the republic and in the diaspora.

Last week’s release of the report on post election violence by Justice Philip Waki has created panic among Kenya’s political elite, long accustomed to exploiting ethnic differences to maintain a tenacious hold on political and economic resources in the country.

Top politicians in Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM party were found to have incited ethnic hatred mostly against President Kibaki’s supporters from the Kikuyu, Kisii, Meru and Kamba tribes. Though ODM says the violence after the December polls were a spontaneous reaction to a rigged process, the Waki Commission discovered that politicians actually paid criminal gangs to kill, rape and loot.

There was a graduated scale of payment for killing a man, woman, pregnant woman, boy and girl child. There was also a reward scale for destroying property – mud houses attracted the least pay. At the Kenya coast, a well-known politician payed youths Kshs300 (US$4) per day to wreck havoc on highways, shops and bars.

On President Kibaki’s side, it is established that top Kikuyu politicians and businesspeople met to plot revenge attacks against the Kalenjin, Luo and Luhya. By late January 2008, the politicians apparently felt that the government was not acting to stop ethnic clashes. The Mungiki group was contacted and its youths used to attack and kill people from pro-ODM tribes in the towns of Naivasha and Nakuru.

Judge Waki declined to name the politicians in his report but the possible list of suspects is widely known among the Kenyan public, both in the republic and in the diaspora. Topping the list is Agriculture Minister William Ruto, a key ally of the Prime Minister. Others include Henry Kosgey, William ole Ntimama and Najib Balala.

On President Kibaki’s side are such personalities as Uhuru Kenyatta, Njenga Karume and Jayne Kihara.

Not surprisingly, neither Kibaki nor Raila want to lose their key supporters. With ethnic politics still very intense, any move against the guilty individuals is likely to stoke resentment from their respective tribes. Inspite of the grievousness of the crimes witnessed early this year, each tribe believes it was fighting a just cause.

Last week, during a peace rally in Nakuru, Kibaki astounded many by calling on the victims of ethnic clashes to “forgive and forget.” Later, while in a Kenyatta Day address broadcast nationally, the president emphasized on forgiveness. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raila Odinga is against the prosecution of ethnic warlords. According to the Standard daily, Raila said: “Leave retribution to the Lord. We do not want to revenge against anybody, we want to build and construct our society.”

What is not in dispute is the fact that politicians incited inter ethnic animosity during last year’s presidential and parliamentary campaigns. Rather than campaign on pertinent issues touching on development, infrastructure, healthcare and jobs, politicians played the ethnic card to whip up emotions among the voting public.

The Luo and Kalenjin were told that they were poor because President Mwai Kibaki is a Kikuyu. The Luhya ethnic group was urged to support ODM because one of their sons – Musalia Mudavadi – would be made Vice President.

President Kibaki’s supporters warned the Kikuyu never to vote for Raila because his Luo tribe does not practice circumcision. The Kikuyu were repeatedly told that, should ODM form the government, all their land and property would be taken over by Luo, Kalenjin and Mijikenda without compensation.

ODM made rigging claims against Kibaki but was unable to prove the allegations before the Waki Inquiry. As a result of the claims several dozen police officers were lynched by ODM supporters during the election, setting the stage for a near-collapse of state authority in consequent violence.

Ethnic incitement raised the stakes in the election so high that violence was going to erupt regardless of who the actual winner was.

As Kenya’s people struggle to rebuild their lives, the hope for justice is what keeps the hundreds of thousands of victims going. They quietly pray for the day when they shall face the people that killed their loved ones, raped and burnt homes.

To the vast majority of Kenyans, calls by the country’s leadership for leniency are a sordid indictment of the state of their country’s politics. Short of divine intervention, there’s very little that Kenya’s struggling citizens can do about it.

Land not the cause of clashes – Ruto

Controversial ODM Member of Parliament, William Ruto, told the Waki Commission of Inquiry that land ownership is not responsible for rampant ethnic clashes in the Rift Valley province.

Ruto told the Commission, “The issue of the post election violence is not land, let nobody cheat you. Kikuyus always sit on the land and the only problem is at the end of 5 years. It is all politics. Land is just an excuse.”

The legislator, whose clout among the Kalenjin ethnic group has grown in the past year, noted that “our politics acquires ethnic dimensions” and communities support parties where “their leaders are at the front and that is one thing we have to change.”

Ruto defended his people from accusations of warlike behaviour, remarking that “there is no DNA for people to fight.”

Mr Ruto is quoted in a report released on 16th October by the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence. The Commission was headed by High Court judge, Philip Waki. Last Friday, the report was handed to President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and mediator, Koffi Annan.

Meanwhile, Judge Waki gave Koffi Annan an enclosed envelope containing names of ten prominent individuals believed to have instigated and sponsored the violence. At least 1,000 people died between December 2007 and March 2008 in an orgy of looting, rape, murder and arson. Hundreds of thousands were made homeless with most still living in camps as ethnic tension persists.

As Member of Parliament for Eldoret North, Ruto is blamed for post election violence in the Uasin Gishu area, where the town of Eldoret lies. Ruto has denied the allegations. In January alone, more than a third of Eldoret’s population fled into camps after attacks by Kalenjin warriors. Most of the victims were from the Kikuyu, Kisii, Luhya and Kamba ethnic groups.

The warriors usually accuse migrant tribes of taking over what they refer as Kalenjin ancestral land and dominating commercial activities. However, Ruto’s statements to the Waki Commission indicate that the motives for the violence are tied to political rivalry.

In his testimony to the Commission, Ruto blamed Kalenjin attacks against the Kikuyu on “a combination of factors”, including the history of violence since 1992. According to Ruto, inter ethnic friction is higher in Uasin Gishu than any other area because of the cosmopolitan makeup of the district.

Ruto dismissed the land issue as a factor in the 2007 violence. He told the Commission, “The issue of the post election violence is not land … It is all politics. Land is just an excuse.”

Ruto finally said that the 2007 election was very polarized and, “the people in the Rift Valley believe that Kibaki oppressed them in the last 5 years. They voted more against Kibaki’s presidency than for Raila’s presidency.”

Ruto is a key backer of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

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