Capital FM (Nairobi)

14 February 2013

Kenya: Busybody Envoys Should Let Citizens Exercise Democracy

opinion

The utterances of a number of foreign envoys regarding the March 4, 2013, Kenyan general election and the cases awaiting four prominent Kenyans at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague are not at all helpful.

In fact, they are building up such a huge reservoir of resentment across much of the country that it could soon boil over into rage.

What a pity, for instance, that US President Barack Obama's thoroughly statesmanlike YouTube video "Message to the People of Kenya" should have been followed up so quickly by the outrageous televised remarks of British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner and US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.

Obama's message was clear, concise and eminently commonsensical. He told Kenyans the US does not endorse any candidate for office and is only interested in "credible and peaceful elections."

As far as the people of Kenya are concerned, Obama's core message last Tuesday was: "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 support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the people."

But then Turner waded into the conversation with his tiresome tirade about the British neither communicating with ICC indictees nor telling Kenyans who to vote for. This preposterous contradiction in terms is a total insult to Kenyans' intelligence.

This was quickly followed up on Thursday by Carson's so-called "restatement" of US policy on the Kenyan elections. In a press conference, Carson made remarks that were laced with understated, menace which amounted to telling Kenyans who not to vote for.

"Choices have consequences," Carson hissed at Kenyans.

We, the undersigned, are young Jubilee Coalition registered voters belonging to The National Alliance (TNA) and the United Republican Party (URP). We find busybody envoys Turner and Carson's attitude and threats to be totally abhorrent and anti-democratic. We belong to a combined vote bloc that has more than six million voters, or 43pc of the national Voter's Roll unveiled on December 18 by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

No other combination of vote blocs has this kind of head start ahead of March 4 and we are confident many other Kenyans will join us in voting for the Jubilee Coalition presidential ticket of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta (TNA) and his running mate William Ruto (URP).

By making thinly veiled threats about breakdowns in "communications" and unspecified dire "consequences" if Kenyans vote for certain candidates, ambassadors Turner and Carson are trying to disenfranchise some of the most enterprising, progressive and forward-looking Kenyans, who comprise the backbone of the nation.

What, exactly, do Turner and Carson want the millions of Kenyans who freely, conscientiously and democratically support the Jubilee Coalition to do with their votes? And who on earth do they think they are to lecture us like this? Their attitudes and remarks constitute an undiplomatic abomination.

Can anyone imagine a Republican being coerced to vote for a Democrat in the US or a Conservative for Labour in the UK by external forces? We bet that these insensitive interlopers would never get away with a mealy-mouthed stunt like this in countries like Rwanda, Malaysia, Nigeria and South Africa.

From where we stand, the British Foreign Office is the last entity that should comment on a case in court, in any jurisdiction, involving a Kenyatta family member, ever. One of history's greatest miscarriages of justice was the British Crown's 1952-53 trial of the Kapenguria Six, the senior-most of whom was Jomo Kenyatta. Witnesses were bribed and six years later confessed to the same, but too late, when the damage was already done.

Ian Stewart MacWalter Henderson, the British colonial policeman who coached and paid the false witnesses against Kenyatta and his five-co-accused, was still receiving awards and commendations from Queen Elizabeth II as late as 1986, when he got the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) medal.

Ian Henderson is the man who hunted down and captured Kenya's freedom hero, Mau Mau Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi Wachiuri, who was hanged in February 1957 and dumped into a secret grave that has yet to be identified to this day. Henderson even wrote a book about his hunt for Kimathi. Until a few years ago, he was the torturer-in-chief in the Bahrain secret police, where his activities became so nefarious that the European Union urged Britain to order him to go home.

Kenyans keenly await the outcome of the case brought against the British Government by Mau Mau veterans. However, we have absolutely no illusions about British justice.

As for Ambassador Carson, a cursory glance at his bio data, available online, shows us he is also a species of secret policeman.

Decades ago, in 1971-74, Carson served as Desk Officer in the Africa Section of the US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. In September 2006, he was appointed State's National Intelligence Officer for Africa.

However, not even being an executive spy in the world's only superpower gives Carson any right whatsoever to direct Kenyans on how they may or may not vote, come March 4. Indeed, how dare he misinterpret his own president's official stand in this "restatement" manner? Kenyans everywhere, including in the North American Diaspora, feel betrayed by such insubordination and partisanship.

All Kenyans of goodwill across all political parties are gratified that Carson's Commander-in-Chief, in his "Message to Kenyans", did not go where his junior has strayed into - Kenyans' own democratic, constitutional and electoral airspace.

The writer is the Director of Communications of The National Alliance, TNA. Twitter: @MachelWaikenda

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