20 February 2013

Kenya: On Kenya Poll, You're Wrong Mr Carson


You expressly stated that there would be 'consequences' and implicitly that these would follow, if Kenyans voted in Uhuru Kenyatta, an ICC indictee.

Having sold us 'one man one vote' democracy as the panacea for all our ills, you now wish to tell us 'natives' how to exercise that vote.

This election, most Kenyans are caught between a rock and a hard place. The last thing we need is for misinformed diplomats to tell us that in this two horse race, one presidential candidate is better than the other. It is not a question about their competence, character or integrity or indeed of their ability to govern. It is a question of Kenya's sovereignty.

Let us put aside the numerous issues relating to the International Criminal Court. Let us look at your government's historic relationship with the ICC. The irony is not lost on many Kenyans that the US refused to ratify the Rome Statute which created the ICC, primarily because of your concern that your leaders and soldiers could be prosecuted.

Nor that your government previously has forced many countries to enter into illegal impunity agreements with yourselves, which prevent them from handing over, to the ICC, any US national accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Or that, as recently as 2010, your government opposed the ICC bid to make 'aggression' a crime under international law. You cannot, in good faith, use the ICC for your subterfuge.

The ICC issue aside. Let us look at your moral authority for entering this debate.

We won't discuss the extrajudicial killing of your own citizens with drone strikes, the continuing existence of Guantanamo Bay, the 100,000s of innocents killed as collateral in Iraq and Afghanistan or the hypocrisy of your current administration sanctioning the illegal 'renditioning' of suspected terrorists from Kenya to third countries for routine torture.

And that is before we even look at the immorality of much of your foreign policy over the previous decades. Equity demands that you come to the table with clean hands. Your hands, both historically and currently, are positively grubby.

Let's even put aside the fundamental principle of most jurisdictions, including yours, that one is innocent until proved guilty.

Both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have stated that they intend to remain in the ICC process. To date most of what they have done seems to support this intent. They are not in breach of their bail conditions and have done nothing yet to indicate that they intend skip bail or do a 'Bashir'.

Your and many diplomats' concerns are based on a contingent liability, a possibility, and you have prejudged them and by association their supporters.

It can only be assumed that yours is a political agenda. Former Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that the ICC would lead to "politicized prosecution". This, Mr Carson, is what you have abetted.

In your words, there are 'consequences'- the USA is now seen as partisan with regard to Kenyan politics.

If diplomats do choose to publicly endorse their man (which many do privately, although not as brazenly as the Dutch and the Germans have previously done), I would ask them to take responsibility for the actions of 'their man' over the next 5 years. A warranty or guarantee to the Kenyan people- that father knows best.

As in the Palestinian election of Hamas, in 2006or indeed the recent changes in North Africa, democratic elections don't always deliver the leaders we would want. But unless you believe in Rousseau's mantra that "men must sometimes be forced to free", you must allow democracy to run its course. Otherwise you are subverting the very democratic process that you espouse. The very nature of sovereignty is that you allow us to make our bed and lie in it. Or stop promoting democracy. Your call.

You may find this offensive but it is no more offensive than millions of Kenya found your unsolicited, partisan and misconceived entry into our democratic space.

And no, I most likely will not be voting for Mr Kenyatta. But that is for reasons, other than 'bwana' told me not to.

Foot is a barrister and media personality (chriskipropfoot@gmail.com or @ckfoot)

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