How and why the US should intervene in Kenya
The Kenyan government is launching an assault on the rule of law. External partners are needed to help change this trajectory.
Kenya is currently sliding towards two worrying scenarios: political chaos and possible inter-communal violence; and/or an authoritarian crackdown that could cripple its young democracy.
The desire within Kenya to change this trajectory is palpable. Yet the ruling Jubilee party and opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) are digging in on opposite sides of a widening partisan divide. Appeals for calm and respect for the rule of law by Western governments have had little effect thus far.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga each command roughly half the electorate. Most analysts calculate that the incumbent probably won the August 2017 election, but the Supreme Court ruled that serious irregularities made it impossible to determine. The Court ordered another election be held. This move was celebrated across much of Africa as symbolic of judicial independence.
In the run-up to that October re-run, Jubilee supporters waged an onslaught against both the courts and the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Judges were threatened, with one surviving an assassination attempt. IEBC commissioners were menaced or offered bribes. One commissioner fled Kenya after receiving death threats, while the memory of IEBC official Chris Msando’s torture and murder days before the August poll remained clear in many people’s minds.
In the end, Kenyatta won the vote, which the Supreme Court promptly validated. However, voter turnout was only 38%, partly because the opposition boycotted the race, claiming it would not be credible.
Convinced Odinga had been “rigged out” of the presidency for the third time in a decade, NASA launched a campaign of national “resistance”. Its supporters called for new elections, organised mostly peaceful (but disruptive) protests and boycotts, and flirted with the idea of a creating a parallel governing authority. A theatrical swearing-in of Odinga as the “people’s President” was held on 30 January. Some NASA militants called for secession.
Today, the protests are continuing and risk escalating into inter-communal violence. A more imminent risk, however, is that harsh Kenyan government crackdowns on what is increasingly a forlorn campaign could lead to this same outcome. Detaining Odinga, for example, would ignite passions that would be hard to control.
The harsh reality for NASA is that it has no legal basis and few realistic options for continuing to dispute Kenyatta’s legitimacy. Meanwhile, the president’s control of the executive, comfortable parliamentary majorities, command of government resources, loyalty of the security forces, and broad international support mean his standoff with Odinga is very unequal.
Given this imbalance, the fury with which Kenyatta’s government has reacted to Odinga’s challenge is difficult to fathom. NASA officials have been harassed, threatened, detained, and deported. To block live broadcasts of Odinga’s “swearing in”, Nairobi’s three main TV stations were taken off the air and kept suspended for days afterwards in defiance of judicial orders.
More ominously, the government, including its Inspector General of Police, is routinely refusing to comply with court orders to release detainees, desist from illegal or unconstitutional acts, answer summonses, and enforce judicial decisions.
In effect, Kenyatta and his government are hitting back hard not just at Odinga and his supporters. They are also challenging the rule of law in ways that push executive impunity to an extreme not seen since the dark days of Daniel Arap Moi’s one-man rule. Kenya’s new constitution, which voters ratified in a 2010 referendum, was meant to be a bulwark against such excesses.
This political turmoil also affects the country economically. The current problems could disrupt trade, deter much-needed investment, and frighten away thousands of tourists who visit its beaches and game parks every year. It could also seriously impact regional economic activities. Kenya is East Africa’s most important regional transportation hub and its road, rail and air links provide an essential trade corridor for virtually every state in the area.
A special relationship
All this matters, or should do, to the country’s Western partners. This includes the US, the country for which both authors formerly served as ambassadors to Kenya.
Kenya is East Africa’s most dynamic economy. The American embassy in Nairobi and its aid programmes in Kenya are among its largest on the continent. Military-to-military links are long-established and strong. Polls consistently show Kenyans have a favourable view of America.
As was the case during the horrendous post-election violence of 2007, Kenya today needs outside assistance to help it alter course. Such help is unlikely to materialise unless the US uses its unique relationship with Kenya to catalyse an international response.
A key objective would be to prevent a descent into violence, but that is only half the job. The larger danger now is the threat to the rule of law posed by an increasingly imperious executive apparently determined to remove legal and constitutional restraints on its exercise of power.
Publicly shaming the Kenyatta government or threatening sanctions is not the answer. However, the US must make it crystal clear privately that there are limits to what the US can tolerate if it is to maintain its close relationship and that continuing to amass executive power unconstitutionally and flaunt the rule of law seriously tests those limits.
While the two countries may be valuable security partners, Kenya needs the relationship more than the US. The partnership is not a “get out of jail free” card for the Kenyatta government. Nor is it an excuse for the US to overlook Nairobi’s refusal to respect fundamental democratic norms.
Another message must also be delivered, both publicly and privately: that the US will continue, as it has for the past 30 years, to provide transparent support to non-partisan Kenyan groups seeking to strengthen democracy, combat corruption, hold government accountable, protect human rights, and uphold the rule of law.
Not too long ago, these were shared values. The US needs to hear now from Kenyatta and and his Deputy President William Ruto whether they still are.
On 6 March, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs Macharia Kamau responded to this article with the piece: US intervention in Kenya? No thanks.
The US and the west declared war on the Kenyan people by supporting and endorsing Electoral Fraud and Fraudulent elections in Kenya.
Let me correct something here: Mr.Raila Odinga controls 80% of the Kenya population.
As a Kenyan, I would like to take this opportunity to tell the US and the international to go to hell!
The foundation of Democracy is free, fair and credible elections.
That seems to be a foreign concept to the western countries.
The interests of the US and the West will never supersede that of Kenyans in Kenya.
Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won 98 per cent of the vote in a repeat presidential election in Kenya
President Uhuru Kenyatta has reached out to Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance opposition coalition, saying he was ready for dialogue with it, but only around the pursuit of economic liberation. Kenya has moved on and people have moved on. “The future is now. It is about a healthy nation, built on equal opportunity for all, dignity for all, and the pursuit of material prosperity for all.”
The write is an ignorant Raila stooge. There is a competent US ambassador in Kenya who knows real-time what is happening in Kenya and has not made such wild suggestions as contained in this article. The former ambassador should realize times and situations in the Kenya he was ambassador have changed. He should keep his stale and dangerous advice to himself. The situation in Kenya will improve when people like these writers stop adding fuel to the dying NASA fake fires. Ambassador Godec knows that Raila has been working hard to attract this kind of unwarranted attention that the writers in this misguided article are trying to give Kenya. NASA demonstrators even went to the US Embassy in Nairobi demonstrating and asking that Ambassador Godec be recalled. When he requested some representatives to go in and talk with him they refused because they were just noise makers with nothing of substance to complain about. The former ambassador should therefore retire in peace and stop hoping to go back to Kenya. He had his time and failed to achieve anything. May be he should try to help Ethiopia. Presdient Trump has no time listening to the kind of advice (mis-advice rather) contained in this Raila-goons sponsored article.
This article is full of lies. You are the ones fanning chaos and for what reasons? Shame on you
Kenya will never get anywhere with business men running the country. Today just a day before water is to come for my neighborhood they switch off so I can pay 1000(10$). What kind of stupid bullshit does the government put us people through? Now I have to call one of these stupid water trucks to bring their dirty water just so I can wash my ass. And don’t get me started with the power company. My grandmother is 2 electric poles from electricity. So why must I now pay a bribe to get service from a government entity. 35k Kenya shillings($350) per pole =$700. No apparently someone needs to be greased with $1300 extrs for my elderly grandmother to have some power. This is why everyone smells of shit in our country and rural areas have no development. From the top down thieves and corrupt officials. Lecturers aren’t paid. Doctors aren’t paid. Nurses aren’t paid. Primary education is not free. Yet business men run the country and have no idea how to balance the budget. I can’t believe I live in this banana republic. Please God help us. Theres so much money in the country and the tax code is shit. Safaricom owners will be wealthiest man by 2032 all the while Ruto will be drying up Lake Victoria and the Nile.
Well, lets see. Kenya’s first president was a former Mau mau terrorist, One of his strongest opponenents, Tom Mboya was murdered–problem solved. Jomo went from broke to the 8th richest man in the world. Kenya gets the majority of its foreign exchange from white charity. Why should we stick our noses into this ” independent ” country’s business ?
This article reads like a funding/grant request to the Rockefeller Foundation. Try another tack, this one is leaning waaay to the Left.
This is complete nonsense. Amerinazis should focus on their own country and their own neo-Nazi government instead of interfering in more sovereign states.
Jonnie Carson is the same fellow who threatened Kenyans in 2013 not to elect Kenyatta. He told Kenyans that choices have consequences. Kenyans gave him the middle finger by electing Kenyatta and his party. Six years later, Carson is still throwing tantrums. Time for him to grow a life.
President Raila controls over 75% of the population. The authors constantly contradict themselves…on one hand they say that only 38% turned out to vote partly because the opposition boycotted the race. Well then it means 62% listened to Pres. Odinga and boycotted. Kenyatta clearly controls only 38%. In fact the actual figures were 24% but were inflated to 38%.
The other contradiction comes where they claim that “NASA has no legal basis and few realistic options for continuing to dispute Kenyatta’s legitimacy” and that Uhuru’s standoff is unequal and tilted in his (Uhuru’s favor. They add that “Given this imbalance, the fury with which Kenyatta’s government has reacted to Odinga’s challenge is difficult to fathom.
Well its difficult to fathom because your assertion that the imbalance is tilted in Uhuru’s favor is a false one. The imbalance is actually tilted in NASAs favor. Thats why Uhuru is in panick mode hence the reaction. Who wouldn’t if he realises that he only controls 38%?
Last contradiction, if the swearing in of Odinga was a mockery why ban independed TV stations from broadcasting the event? Whats there to fear from a “mock” event? Unless of course its not a “mockery” but the reality?
The authors clearly contradict themselves so much you have to ask yourself if they really know what they are talking about.
Odinga is the People’s president and rightly so. He won the August 8th elections and the President that most Kenyans elected and recognise.
First of all, we need to advice these two former US ambassadors to Kenya that Kenya doesn’t need US advice on how to run her affairs. As Raila told US the other day, Kenya is not a US colony and as such US should stay out of Kenya’s affairs.
Now, to the issues raised by the authors of the above article. It is a well known fact that President handy won August 2017 elections before they were nullified by the SC. Kenyatta’s win is supported by the majority of Parliamentary seats and Governorship won by his Jubilee Party. The decision of the SC to nullify the presidential elections was not unanimous and the two judges who had a different opinion presented solid rock arguments in reading their findings of the results of the election petition. The IT report presented to the court by the Registrar of the SC has been challenged and the CJ have blocked the questioning of the Registrar by DCI detectives. So, there many issues that the SC has not been forthcoming with and the declaration of dissatisfaction by Jubilee on the handling of the petition is totally in order – after all, the judges are not without err.
The two former ambassadors have never bothered to hide their disapproval of Kenyatta government and that is Ok since they are entitled to their opinion. What is insulting to Kenyans is for them to purport to understand Kenya’s political issues than Kenyans and think they are more qualified to advice the US government on how to respond to Kenya political issues if they are any – US government currently have more domestic issues of it’s own to sort out before they can think of getting involved in another country political problem. Today, the outgoing Director of NSA told US Senate that the Russians are still actively meddling in US election process and will do so again in mid-term elections later this year. Maybe these two former ambassadors should advice their government on how to deal with the Russian issue and leave Kenya alone. Kenya doesn’t need you nor your advice.
In my opinion Kenyans have to decide for themselves what’s best not just for the country but the future of the young people whose hope and lives are at stake in this gigsaw political puzzle which now captivates the lives of every one at this point.
I don’t think Odinga and his distinguish mishaps have any positive directives for the people of Kenya .The colossal embarrassment for boycotting the election and creating political anarchy to destabilize the economy and jubilee party agenda for the country’s future and development have ricochet in his face leaving the NASA in a poltical worldwind with no other positive directives other than to be the People’s President. A capout for years of failure.
It’s time for a more positive approach to governance and leadership and at this point it maybe from the governing party. The jubilee Party.
Utter nonsense am in Kenya and people have moved on. we cannot be politicking for more than one year while everything else stands still. Did George W. negotiate with Al Gore after the Supreme Court decision in 2,000. Please spare us your paternalistic arrogance towards our indepdent judicial system and constitution.
The writing by the two former Ambassadors to Kenya, can only be termed to as sheer bull-shit!!! they have got no iota of what happened in Kenya before and during the August poll, leave alone what is happening now. They should first seek advice from the current serving envoy before they set-off in broadcasting falsehoods!!!
The first thing I as a Kenya expect is the US to remove its current ambassador to Kenya.He is naive,incompetent and ignorant of the political situation on the ground.
This article has a lot of incorrect information. For instance, it is the first time I hear that there was an assassination attempt on a judge. This is not only an allegation lacking merit but which attempts to accuse the Jubilee government of plotting such an assassination attempt. If they have facts about this, let them publish it.
Let it be noted that history can show Carson and Bellamy have always leaned towards the sentiments of Raila for reasons, best known, “personal interests and interests of America to rule the world.” After a very explosive title of the topic that argues their is assault of the rule of law, the substance and content in the article deflated my appetite. The authors argue that the government is perpetrating assault of rule of law by arrest for the oppositions but they do not say the arrested were charged at court of law and released on bond and the government respected the courts decision. The authors also fall short of what the arrested figures were charged with. All this is bullshit. Keep your advises.
it is amazing to note that this writer has intentionally avoided the truth limiting his knowledge to an imagined situation in the republic. Raila and his militia failed on all fronts and like the LRA of Uganda, they seek extrajudicial means as a path to their goals.
Transparency and biased judgement will save Kenya, not one sidedness in handling our issues and affairs. PAUL says President Kenyatta won repeat poll by 98%, the question is, 98% of what – i.e. what % of voter turn out, and under what circumstances was the voting done?
WENYENCHI applies foul language on the writers, who are simply expressing their opinions. WENYENCHI was not the former diplomats’ supervising officer to determine their successes and failures at their jobs. WENYENCHI is obviously among the people fanning fire instead of helping extinguish it, which is dangerous to our co-existence..
Kenyans need to approach national issues with decorum and genuine concerns for overall good of the country and her people. The majority, including religious groups, human rights groups and even the western diplomats among others, are calling for genuine dialog to resolve contentious electoral related issues and resulting disputes. All these cannot be wrong and the noble call should be embraced.
it came slowly in ruanda the its coming to kenya. what will happen after millions will have died in kenya.?
we are not crying wolf in kenya the signs are bad. outside world listern please.
Johnny Carson is the same character that came threatening us, telling us Choices have consequences! Well, we made our choice and we are well satisfied with the same. Perhaps, you should be addressing yourselves on the Trump choice you made and leave us the hell alone. Rubbish article this is!!
To those clowns writing here how Uhuru is a good president…why dont you go back to Kenya? What are you still doing in these cold places if Kenya is such a paradise that you claim it to be? You know very well that Kenyatta has turned Kenya into a 5h1th0le country. Thats the truth of the matter.
Kenyatta never won the August 8th elections, he rigged it. The court nullified that election because of the irregularities and illegalities. Illegalities and irregularities happen for a reason. In that case they happened because Kenyatta was rigging the election in his favor.
Kenyatta is now overseeing a reign of terror in Kenya. Threatening Supreme court judges & attempting to kill the deputy chief justice, withdrawing the security of NASA leaders, killing unarmed protesters including innocent children (R.I.P #babypendo & #babymoraa ), using militia (Mungiki) to kill NASA supporters, curtailing press freedon. To make matters worse he has borrowed massively and Kenyas debt under his leadership (or is it kack of) is double that of his predecosors combined.
Kenyans are really suffering under Uhuru. 60% unemployment rate, no fresh water for city residents, crime rate has skyrocketed, famine in most parts of the country (remember govt maize flour?), inflation, high cost of living, nepotism and tribalism in govt appointments just to name a few. Most Kenyans are fed up with Kenyattas leadership and yearn for a new leader, thats why they rejected him twice at the ballot last year.
Kenyatta has turned Kenya into a 5h1th0le country. A revolution is in the offing. Watch this space!
Sober thinking and rationale here:
1) First election of August was rigged and annulled- FACT
2) Second election where Uhunye was running head to head with voter turn out and surpassed it was a charade- FACT
3) Uhunye go 98 percent of the supposed 38 percent voter turn out- FACT
4) The government lacks total legitimacy and is constantly running scared of what the opposition decides to do- A HUGE FACT
5) That it is going to be a rough final term for the incumbent- TAKE THAT TO CITI BANK AND CASH IT
6) That Raila commands well over 70 percent of the total country- OBVIOUS FACT. IF IN DOUBT ASK THE INCUMBENT WHAT IS GIVING HIM SLEEPLESS NIGHTS IF HE IS COMFORTABLE IN HIS 98 PERCENT OF 38 PERCENT OF TOTAL VOTES CAST.
7) That Raila will be on the ballot in subsequent elections- NOT EVEN A QUESTION…HE HAS NO CHOICE HE IS THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE ALL THE TIME
8) That 2022 will be literally the game changer- WATCH THIS SPACE
All in all, glad the average Kenyan is getting more and more comfortable in their political space and voicing their concerns and dislikes. I will route for secession all the way. Best way to deal with a deadly vermin is to cut it off completely from your life. Let us talk divorce and have the 38 percent rule each other and the 75 percent rule each other.
The article attempts fairness, by giving a descriptive account of current and past events. If the USA is aware of the impunity, arrogance , shear disregard of the law, constitution and Human rights violation , why not stump your authority. We believe the kenyan government has america by the neck and will do whatever Kenyatta demands. it is time to act precisely and authoritatively for the Good of Mankind.
That is the ditch they call Kenya. The other day militias harassed motorists on the Limuru-Naivasha road and nothjng happened. Kenya belongs to one side, the minority side with economic and state power behind them. Lets wait and see when the hyena decides that his children smell like God.
If the rule of law is to be applied,then let it be a two edged sword!….first you cannot claim that the government is breaking the law while the opposition is busy sacrificing and altering the constitution with impunity….tell me Mr Carson what constitution allows someone to be sworn in as a people president with an annulled election results by the same courts,initiated by the same petitioner?….You Mr Carson cannot claim to fight for democracy while entertaining illegality…Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in by the same chief justice that annulled the election,therefore if there is any blame why not castigate the chief justice for an illegal swearing…Mr Carson please Kenya might a shithole country but we are not fools!…we know your schemes from the famous comments “choices have consequences”..
How did the writers determine that the incumbent president “probably won” the August 8 election? If he did, why did IEBC refuse to open the election servers for verification on who won when ordered by the Supreme Court of Kenya (SCK) to do so? And why did the the SCK not punish the IEBC chief for contempt of court after its refusal to open the server? It clearly points to threats and intimidation by the executive. The writers of this article should know that the citizenry knows what happened and hurts a lot when seeing foreigners imposing unpopular leadership on them, they should not hoodwink the world with false theories to justify their support of the current regime for selfish interests.
As you can tell, the paper is not correctly reported. Raila definitely commands over 85% of the electorate and Jubilee never won the August election. If they ever did, ask yourself this question “why in the world did they refuse to open the server for transparency?”
Ethnic clashed are on rise, why??? Simple, Kikuyu tribe is taking all other tribes for jokes and wants to use their fake presidency to run over authorities of other tribes!!! This has to stop.
It’s pathetic how the authors struggle to concoct some nonexistent legitimacy for thugs who have clearly captured an entire country to do things with outright impunity. When you talk of “most observers” giving the August elections a clean bill, are you referring to the likes of John Kerry who clearly came to rubber stamp an open fraud against Kenyans? Why don’t you want to see Africans become true masters of their destiny? The fact remains that Uhuru lost the August elections and the same was confirmed when he ran against himself only to end up rigging the turnout when even the international media reported near complete boycott. Clinging on legality to justflify a fraud will never fool anyone. Even slavery and apartheid had legal basis. Uhuru is only president because he has tribalised the police and the military. With a levelled play ground with no American and UK interference, Uhuru can’t even win a parliamentary seat in his Gatundu backyard. That’s the bitter truth even if you choose to bury your heads in the sand so as to continue making our country a deeper shithole to accommodate more of your poop.
World over Rwanda-like catastrophes don’t not visit a country from the blues. Like a simmering Volcano it builds. Few eyes see it but would have no power to turn socio-political levers to avert an apocalypse. The Kenyan situation is so ripe for an apocalypse may be some secret hand of divine intent stays the situation.
Still most countries that end up staying stable for long periods undergo a rebirth, most from blood bath and world history is replete with such. May be Kenya is still too young for the rebirth but it shall sure come.
Key ingredients for our half century history make for a potent broth for a rebirth in the mould of the Rwandies, Nigerian,Ethiopia, South Africa,America, Britain repeatedly, France,………..
Sadly every Kenyan leadership that emerges, most illegitimately, quickly like raven hungry for meat descends upon public coffers with a abandon, both to fulfill premodal grid and also to stash away enough for use to buy fake entitlement to the throne in next elections. Either ignorant of pending danger or blinded by grid to think and do something about it.
Alot of state trolls here!
Having worked and lived in both Kenya and Tanzania, I am not surprised at what is happening, long ago anyone involved in Africa, approached the idea of democracy and transparency with caution. The true lack of focus on governments providing their people the essential rights to education, employment, health and opportunity to have the dignity of a promising future, tells us now that these values are still far away. The constant corruption , nepotism, bad management remain the foundation for many African governments despite the voices of a leaderless population such as the DRC being raised. America, with its diminished power, funding and presence is no longer the leader and light of liberty with its present chaotic, hollow and almost ignorant view of the outside world. Truth be told, intervention is not welcome, much less from outside incompetence which America finds itself locked into. Realistically China is now the owner of Africa, extracting rare minerals and essential natural resources, for railways, roads, monuments and football stadium, all of which fall apart shortly after construction. Worse still the incursion of small shopkeepers, chinese speaking the local languages and selling shoddy and underpriced goods that replace local merchants is a coming sign for eventual repercussions from the population. As bad as it is, unhappily it is theirs to resolve internally, that is a slow evolutionary struggle that will go on perhaps for decades or never.
Former US government officials doing the bidding of the Saudi masters whose black hand of death has been evident in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and so many other places in Africa.
Every time the U.S. “intervenes?” (it used to be named, “tries to help”) Furthers the point I am hoping to make with this comment. “If” the U.S. doe not “intervene” and complications arise,… we will still be blamed for the problems. It is much less expensive for my country to not “intervene.” Because the U.S. will be critisized no matter what. Whether we try to help or not. And we are trying to tighten our budget for domestic problems of our own. And “intervention” to try to further the agenda of the U.S. (it used to be named “trying to help others”) is expensive.