Friday, 8 February 2008

Are you you going to bury your head in the sand Mwai Kibaki

How long must Mwai Kibaki bury his head in the sand?

Bringing the entire building down on himself.

There is no easily enforceable way for outsiders to impose such sensible conditions on Mr Kibaki. Certainly, the United States and the European Union, if not the African Union, should impose targeted sanctions—with asset freezes and travel bans—against a clutch of the most venal ministers, some of whom Mr Kibaki has even promoted since his fraudulent re-election; they should be named, too. Kenya should be suspended from the Commonwealth and aid reconsidered.

But the most powerful pressure against Mr Kibaki is the sight of his country's economy threatening to implode. Many of his keenest Kikuyu supporters must realise that his refusal to budge is leading all Kenyans, whether supporters of himself or Mr Odinga, into a bloody and bankrupting dead end from which it may soon become impossible to retreat.

Quotes from Stop this descent into hell.

Watching the chaos that is threatening to tear Kenya apart today, it is easy to forget that just over a month ago Kenyans lined up in the millions to cast their votes in peace. If those voters’ rights had been respected to begin with, the members of this Committee would likely have been able to join the world in congratulating Kenya on a tremendous stride towards consolidating its democracy. Instead Kenyans are faced with a sudden tide of violence that threatens to derail hopes of socio-economic progress in Kenya and damage the prospects of democracy across the continent.

Of course, Kenya’s violence has roots that run far deeper than the disputed polls of last December. Underlying causes of the anger and division that have boiled over in recent weeks include longstanding injustices related to land ownership and political marginalization; the failure to enact important constitutional reforms; the political manipulation of ethnicity; impunity for past episodes of violence; and other core issues that successive Kenyan governments have completely failed to address. Whatever way forward Kenya finds from the current impasse must include serious and credible efforts to tackle these issues. It should now be belatedly clear to all of Kenya’s leaders just how dangerous a mistake it was to let these issues fester over time. At the same time, however, the complexity of the ongoing violence must not distract Kenya’s leaders or the international community from the problem that was the immediate trigger for the violence— the rigging of the Presidential polls. The solution to the broader crisis must include a guarantee that the right of Kenya’s voters to have their freely expressed choice of government respected is upheld in the end. Because of the number and complexity of the underlying issues and because of the terrible intensity of the ongoing violence, Kenya’s leaders and the international community may feel tempted to cobble together a political bargain that sweeps the causes of the chaos back underneath the rug. This would be a serious mistake. Such an attempt would lay the groundwork for future crises, just as the failure to address underlying causes in the past set the stage for today’s upheavals. The international community, including the United States, has a crucial role to play in seeing to it that any political settlement lays the foundations for lasting peace; ensures accountability for the crimes that have destroyed so many lives in recent weeks; and is grounded in an unequivocal respect for human rights and the principles of democratic governance.

Kenya’s December elections should have been an important milestone for Kenya and for Africa. After a closely-fought campaign Kenyans turned out in massive numbers to cast their votes in peace. There were serious irregularities reported on both sides in some areas. However, the most damaging acts of fraud were committed during the final stages of tallying, when the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) presided over what was by all appearances a desperate last-minute attempt to rig the Presidential contest in favor of incumbent Mwai Kibaki. In the closing hours of the tabulation process a lead of over one million votes for opposition candidate Raila Odinga evaporated under opaque and highly irregular proceedings and was transformed into a razor-thin margin of victory for Mr. Kibaki. The result was also entirely at odds with the ODM’s successes in the parliamentary vote. The entire process quickly fell apart in confusion. In the face of public outrage and mounting pressure to reverse the move, four electoral commissioners publicly denounced the apparent fraud. Even the head of the ECK later said that he could not determine who actually won the vote. Nonetheless Mr. Kibaki tried to pre-empt any challenge by having himself hurriedly sworn in to a second term in office before Kenyans even had time to register their outrage. Violence erupted even before the announcement of results as concern and suspicion about delays spread through the country. Within hours of the results’ announcement Kenya began to slide headlong into the violent chaos that has steadily grown worse ever since.

The violence that has followed Kenya’s disputed Presidential poll presents a complex picture that varies considerably across different parts of Kenya. Aside from opportunistic violence and looting the crisis so far has taken on three central dimensions. First, scores of Kenyans have been shot by police officers in circumstances that were generally unjustifiable and in some cases amounted to extrajudicial killings. Second, the announcement of the Presidential election results sparked ethnic violence which at first was primarily directed at members of Mr. Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe. That violence has now spawned a proliferation of ethnic-based reprisal attacks, some of them in communities that had been peaceful in the immediate aftermath of the elections. These reprisals are degenerating into a self-perpetuating cycle that has become more difficult to stop with every passing day. Third, violence has been accompanied by a rapid deepening of polarization characterized by attempts to silence, threaten and intimidate voices of moderation and dissent including human rights defenders, political dissidents and ordinary people. The most important fact that must be taken into account moving forward is that most of the violence cannot be seen as spontaneous. In many cases attacks were actively incited and in some cases directly organized by community leaders, local politicians and others. At the national level, the efforts of political leaders on both sides to rein in the excesses of their supporters have been woefully inadequate at best. Worse, there are allegations that prominent individuals on both sides have been actively involved in fomenting violence.

The first priority for Kenya is bringing about an end to violence and attending to the urgent needs of the thousands who have been affected by the crisis. But beyond a prolongation or worsening of civil strife there is another immediate danger: the temptation to attempt to secure short-term peace without addressing the real causes of the crisis. Such an attempt would likely end in failure and would certainly prove destructive in the longer term.

The Kibaki government has until now reacted to mediation efforts with cynicism and intransigence, clinging to the untenable position that it won the election fairly and will therefore not contemplate any settlement that does not legitimize its hold on power. Instead of working to resolve the issues the Kibaki government has occupied itself with using the violence as a tool to bludgeon the ODM leadership with as-yet unsubstantiated accusations of sponsoring ethnic cleansing and other international crimes. Practically speaking, progress on resolving the election issue is a prerequisite for progress on all of the other issues. The Kibaki government clearly stands as the primary obstacle to addressing that issue and must be pressured into giving ground so that broader progress is also possible.

Quotes from the immediate and underlying consequences and causes of flawed democracy in Kenya by Human rights watch.

Healthcare in Kenya may be threatened by the political crisis.

Internally displaced persons leave the city for their ancestral homes after they received leaflets threatening them with death.

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