1 December 2012

Kenya: ICC Case Has Grave Implications On Uhuru


I am again constrained to address you directly because I fear that you and those close to you are deliberately and actively refusing to allow for an open, robust and candid debate about the implications of a win in the forthcoming general elections of your combined presidential campaign ticket with William Samoei Ruto.

Just the other day, you were hasty to label none other than the venerable Kofi Annan a 'tourist' while warning 'foreigners' to keep off Kenya's internal democratic affairs.

Kofi Annan's sin was to issue a statement to the effect that, "Everybody needs to ponder. Particularly when we are dealing with the leadership of a country and leadership that involves other countries outside Africa...there are implications."

Your reaction to this fact-of-the-matter assertion by Annan was not a curiosity. It is clearly part of your strategy to paralyse the much-needed debate around the implications of your presidential ticket in the forthcoming elections.

By labeling Kofi Annan a 'tourist' you effectively branded him a political busybody, non-entity and irrelevant. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Kofi Annan remains engaged in Kenya as the principal mediator of the 2008 Kenya National Dialogue and Mediation agreement; whose major political planks are still very much and actively in play.

His role did not end after the signing of the accord; with no implementation or dispute resolution mechanisms embedded in that accord it is critical that there is constant mediation between the two parties to the accord whenever disagreement occurs.

Moreover, Annan is a powerful voice within and amongst the international community. The labeling of him as a 'tourist' also sought to create the impression that he has no knowledge of the political and governance situation in Kenya, completely undermining his international platform and voice.

Again, there would be little wonderment why you would do so. This is because while you have personally been very clear and concise that you will continue to cooperate and attend the hearings of your case at the International Criminal Court irrespective of a win in the presidential ballot at the forthcoming elections, there has been a quiet messaging from your supporters that your victory and ascendancy to the top political job in Kenya would beat off and nullify the charges at the ICC against you. Was it not your close political ally and confidant Njeru Githae, the Finance minister, who recently told his supporters that a vote for you would lead to all charges at The Hague being dropped?

Nothing can be further from the truth in this regard. The ICC has been crystal clear about this issue. Moreover, please recall that the majority of Kenya's friends in the international community were clearly unsupportive of the ill-advised, ineffectual and resource-gobbling shuttle diplomatic effort conducted by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka earlier this year as he sought to get the cases related to Kenya at the ICC deferred.

There clearly will be implications for a presidential win of your presidential ticket in the forthcoming general elections. Whether this is said by Kofi Annan, the ICC, the US government, the UK government, the European Union, the African Union, the East African Community or ordinary watu (people) will not change this fact.

Moreover, this does not make those who are pointing this out to be part of an "imperial" conspiracy to deny you the opportunity of running for the office of the President of Kenya.

It is simply an honest, candid and brutal correlation of the current political governance situation in Kenya with the current trends within the international community with regard to political governance accountability.

The international community, of which Kenya is part, espouses certain value-credentials to guide its political interactions.

We are beholden to properly decipher these if we are to keep our proper place among the comity of nations. Of course, this is not to state that we are naïve enough not to understand how these values have been constantly and consistently undermined by the big international political powers.

Rather, it is to re-new our international roots from the platform of common political values that transcend our shared humanity; as part of the grounding and take-off on a trajectory to proper democratic governance in Kenya.

So what are these implications? Rasna Warah, in a recent press article, boldly listed a number of them. These include that Kenya could be labeled a pariah state by the international community (meaning a withdrawal of their financial and technical support - severely crippling Vision 2030); that Western nations may impose a trade embargo on Kenya (again totally puncturing the economy which as you know hinges heavily on foreign trade); the United Nations may pull out of Kenya and set up base in a neighboring country (the cost to the local economy would be exorbitant); like Zimbabweans under Robert Mugabe, Kenyans would start seeking refuge and jobs in neighbouring countries (sparking even more brain drain than Kenya can afford); the likelihood that your non-appearance and or non-cooperation would lead to severely restricted travel and inability to adequately represent Kenya at international forums which are critical to attract more investment in the country; the likelihood that your attendance at the trials in The Hague would mean absentee political governance with its attendant myriad of adverse outcomes; and the possibility in the event of conviction and sentencing, of forcing on Kenyans another costly and polarising presidential election.

There are other implications which, at this moment, I will not venture into due to lack of space. As you can see my dearly beloved King, we are not saying some of these things to be spiteful or to advance a certain undemocratic 'imperial' agenda.

Why would, for instance, our concern for the attainment in good time of Vision 2030 be part of an imperial plot to undermine you yet we know it is at the heart of the legacy of our current muthamaki Emilio Mwai Kibaki?

Mugambi Kiai is the Kenya Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA). The views expressed in this article are entirely his own and do not reflect the views of OSIEA

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