The Star (Nairobi)

11 February 2013

Kenya: Obama's Message Spurs Mixed Reactions

column

Habari Yako started President @BarackObama 's Message to the Kenyan people delivered via a Podcast, earlier this week. The President continued to say "The choice of who will lead Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The United States does not endorse any candidate for office, but we do support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people."

And then signs off in his inimitable style with "And I say to all of you who are willing to walk this path of progress-you will continue to have a strong friend and partner in the United States of America. Kwaheri."

Coincidentally and on the very same Day, The British High Commissioner to Kenya Dr. Christian Turner said:'"The UK will remain impartial. What is important to us is not who wins the general election but how he wins the polls" and then via Twitter reiterated that "Whoever wins election, ongoing Kenyan co-operation with ICC essential."

And Then on Friday Johnnie Carson the assistant secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs on US--Africa foreign policy weighed in:

"Choices have consequences, We live in an interconnected world and people should be thoughtful about the impact that their choices have on their nation, on the region, on the economy, on the society and on the world in which they live. Choices have consequences."

Carson Speaking to Kenyan journalists from Washington via video link warned that as much as the general election is a Kenyan affair, its outcome will have implications since a president "must work with the international community."

The French Ambassador to Kenya Etienne De Poncins added on Friday that: "France will stick to the EU stand to respect the ICC, and the member countries in relation to ICC suspects."

What is an absolute truth is that Kenyans have the absolute right to vote for whomsoever we wish to vote for.

Now how do we parse this deluge of comments? We self-referred ourselves to The ICC with our mantra 'Don't be Vague Let's go to The Hague.' So the idea that this is an evil conspiracy hatched outside Kenya does not stack up. We self-selected the ICC. Interestingly, the myth around the ICC has consolidated the vote on a tribal basis.

And the messages we heard last week from our western partners has only consolidated it further. In fact, it's very counter intuitive but commentary from the West has actually snagged votes for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto and my analysis now shows they have a shot at taking this lock, stock and barrel in the 1st Round,

The sanctions risk is [in my view] only triggered if having won the popular mandate the newly minted President and his deputy decide to skip the ICC process. And whilst many folks tend to pose the question back to me 'Would You go, Aly-Khan?'

I will take Mr Kenyatta at his word. He wins big and confounds everyone by making his way to the Hague.

By way of contrast, China had already stated the following "No matter who is elected, the Chinese Government is willing to work with the Kenyan Government," said Chinese Embassy to Kenya chief of communications and public affairs Shifan Yu.

It is clear that China is willing to work with whomever and that can be taken to the bank. President Omar Al-Bashir has been relying on China's guarantee for quite a while now. It has not been a road strewn with scented rose petals for Khartoum, however.

The Stock Market has been roaring in 2013. The Nairobi All Share is at a more than five year high and +13.24% so far in 2013. Kenya Commercial Bank +19.3227% in 2013, EABL +15.849%, ScanGroup +8.7591% in 2013 are all at record highs. BAT is +9.775% in 2013 and just 0.185% off a record, Nation Media is +19.457% and just 0.3773% off a record. One Session last week, The Securities Exchange traded over Sh2 billion which is a rocket fuelled session any which way you care to cut it.

Time and again I heard him say, "Well, this is a bull market, you know!" as though he were giving to you a priceless talisman wrapped up in a million-dollar accident-insurance policy. And, of course, I did not get his meaning. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator published in 1923.

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