Many articles in the Kenyan “blogosphere” (see chart below), local and international media have been written about the post-election crisis. The numbers reach into their thousands. This article tries to give an overview about good articles with background information on Kenya and the current political crisis. It is just a selection and we are sure that we may have missed many good ones. It is just the beginning and we will try to keep it updated, so if you see any good ones that would fit into this page, please use the comment function to add them.
(Topics in alphabetical order)
The Draft Constitution of Kenya, known as the Boma’s draft, was adopted by the National Constitutional Conference on 15th of march 2004.
“The potential impact of economic sanctions on the Kenyan government” takes a closer look at the Kenyan economy and delivers useful statistics and numbers.
“Eyes on the World Bank and Kibaki’s economy” takes a closer look at the economic program of Kibaki’s government and at the World Bank’s interest in Kenya.
Antony Otieno Ong’ayo, a researcher at the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, gives “An overview of the underlying factors” of “The Post-election Violence in Kenya” at Pambazuka News. It is detailed and gives a great historic overview as well .
“Unearthing of the sources of tribal disagreements and ethno-politics in Kenya” takes a closer look at the historic background of tribalism in Kenya.
The US biased NGO Human Rights Watch published a report about the involvement of opposition politicians in the preparation of the Rift valley violence. “Kenya: Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence” was published on January 24th 2008.
The article “The effect of the Kenyan crisis on Kenya’s health system” tries to summarize the struggles to keep up the Kenyan health system in this time of crisis. It also refers to an article by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs IRIN “KENYA: Healthcare threatened by political crisis”
International Medical Corps addresses the issue “Risk of Long-Term Food Insecurity and Malnutrition” in Kenya.
The Africa Policy Institute published a report by Horace Njuguna Gisemba named “The Lie of the land: Evictions and Kenya’s crisis”. It takes a closer look at the history of land distribution and ownership in the Rift valley and disputes the often heard argument of “land distribution” as the underlying cause for the killings. It is controversally discussed at the Kenya imagine.
Humanitarian news and analysis (IRIN) also writes about “Spreading the word of hate” .
John Barbieri, an independent reporter and the founder of the US Coalition for Peace with Truth and Justice in Kenya writes about the “The poverty of international journalism”.
Simiyu Barasa, a member of the Coalition of Concerned Kenyan Writers, wrote an essay on “War journalism: Kenya’s newest tourist attraction” on the kwani blog. Barasa picks up the concept of “peace journalism” by the Norwegian Scholar John Galtun and shows how the local media tries to use their influence to promote peace and fails due to an international “war journalism”. He gives examples how cameras create stories and that media attention is only drawn by violence. This is done by the very same media cooperation which thought it was their responsibility not to show any cruel pictures after 9/11 and during the Iraq war.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) strongly condemned the violation of press freedoms and intimidation of journalists on January 19t.
The Mukoma Wa Ngugi analysis on the differences within the Orange Democratic Movement and the different political approaches by its leaders. “Understanding the Kenyan Opposition” brings to light the differences between the activist-intellectual left, the Moi-ist retrogressives, and the populists within the party.
“Eyes on Kenyan Political Parties: A call for change” looks at the historic background of Kenya’s Parties and the lack of their political profiles.
In the publication “Political Succession in East Africa – In Search for a Limited Leadership” by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Dr. Katumanga Musambayi wrote the chapter: “After the floods – The Rainbow: Contextualising NARC’s election victory – Lessons learnt and the challenges ahead”. It was published in 2006 and gives an overview about the prior election in 2002.
Despite the fact that the different religious communities play an important role in Kenya's society, we have not found any deeper analysis on the role of the churches to promote peace and their role in finding a conflict solution.
United States of America
Here we are still looking for a good article, that analyses the change in the US policies towards the Kibaki government.
Our early analysis on the “The role of the US Department of State in the aftermath of Kenyan Election” sees a change in US policies as the results of a learning process due to the mistakes made in the 2005 Ethiopian election.
Patrick Mutahi asks the Question”What is America's stake in this?” and explains their interest according to their “war on terror” policies.
The “Women’s Memorandum to the Mediation Team” was published on Pambazuka News. It was written by the “Kenyan Women's Consultation Group on the Current Crisis in Kenya” a group of women from various backgrounds who met to discuss a solution to the crisis. Among other important points it stresses the importance of women participation in the finding of conflict solutions adhereing to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
"Violence and women in Kenya" portraits the Kenyans Prof. Wangari Maathai, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi and Gladwell Otieno and takes a closer look at violence against female candidates in the pre-election period.
Again: If you know other background articles on the current situation in Kenya, please use the comment function or the "Contact Page" to add them. If you leave a comment you have the option to be notified for any further comments.
The last part of the article “Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa” about Uganda and the African-EU summit.
The Ugandan general election of 2006 took place on February 23, 2006. This was the first multi-party election since Yoweri Museveni took over power in 1986. Disputes started when Museveni changed the constitution in order to run for another term. His main opponent, the leader of the opposition party Forum for Democratic Change Kizza Besigye, was arrested on November 14, 2005 on allegations of treason and rape. The treason case included his alleged links to the rebel group People’s Redemption Army, whose existence is questionable and the rape charge referred to an incident in November 1997 allegedly involving the daughter of a friend. With only 3 months left before the election, most people believed in a tactical move to dispose a political rival. People protested the arrest, riots broke out and at least one Person was killed by the police (BBC).
Museveni during the election campaign (c) BBC
Nevertheless Kizza Besigye managed to get 37% of the votes, with Museveni winning the election despite getting about 10% less than in the last election. Human Rights Watch said that there were reports of ballot stuffing, multiple voting, and potentially hundreds of thousands of people denied the right to vote in the Ugandan elections require urgent investigation.
The FDC cited several irregularities in the conduct of the polls, including the deployment of soldiers near voting booths, allegedly to intimidate its supporters. The party also alleged that many FDC supporters had been unable to vote because their names were not included on electoral rolls. EU observers noted problems with the campaign despite improvements in general. In their preliminary report, the observers said there was no “level playing field”, pointing to Dr Besigye’s arrest on charges of treason and rape last year. They also said state-media was biased towards Mr Museveni and his National Resistance Movement. The FDC did not acknowledge the result. Dr. Besigye tried to challenge the results in court but the Uganda’s supreme court rejected it saying there was no evidence that the results had been substantially affected by irregularities. The judges acknowledged that there had been problems but not enough to challenge President Yoweri Museveni’s victory (BBC)
Besigye supporters protest (c) BBC
Despite the criticism on the way Museveni was elected and the manipulation of the constitution to allow him an extra term, no major changes have taken place in the donor’s role and relationship with Uganda. According to a BBC article titled “Museveni: Uganda’s fallen angel“, a Ugandan political commentator Andrew Mwenda had this to say about Dr. Besigye “Besigye’s greatest contribution to this country has been to unmask Museveni and expose his true colours as a militarist who disregards the rule of law and shuns due process.”
It was thus no surprise that Museveni was the first President to acknowledge Kibaki as the President of Kenya. The Ugandan government has offered military help to secure Oil transportation through Kenya and there are never ending rumours that Ugandan soldiers are operating in Kenyan territory.
How should the international Community deal with questionable elections in Africa?
The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said Western powers were themselves to blame for imposing colonial rule and then Western-style electoral democracy on Africa. “The Western ‘democracy’ transplanted to Africa is unsuited to local conditions and has sowed the seeds of disaster,” said a commentary in the paper. “The election crisis in Kenya is just one typical example. In fact, many African countries’ elections have sparked political turmoil.” (Reuters) China’s position is clear: Do not get involved in/ with some other nation’s policies as long as it is a reliable economic partner (in the Kenyan government’s case, one that gives away national resources without any direct benefits to the Kenyan people). From someone holding up values like human rights or democracy this is totally unacceptable, but at least the Chinese government is honest about it.
Mugabe at the EU summit 2007
How about policies of the Western countries? Since we discussed the US policies in a previous article, let us take a closer look at the éclat at the EU-African summit in Portugal last December. In her key note speech on human rights, German chancellor attacked the Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. With Mugabe listening, Merkel said the world could not stand by while human rights were “trampled underfoot”. “The situation of Zimbabwe is damaging the image of the new Africa.” Two months prior to this, Merkel had welcomed the Dalai Lama into the chancellor’s residency, causing a major upset with her social democratic coalition partner. This is because the Chinese government cancelled talks about improving of trade between Germany and China from the Agenda.
In this case she proved that she puts human rights issues above economic interests, and one can presume that this applied as well in her critique of Mugabe. Her critique provoked some strong reactions, mainly by the Senegales Persident Abdoulaye Wade, by South African President who stated she was “badly informed”. “Who could say”, he asked, “that rights were abused there more than elsewhere in Africa?”.
It would be to easy to dismiss such a reaction as a simple anti-colonial reflex. After all, the European-African summit was mainly about a highly criticized trade agreement which was strongly opposed by some African nations. In this context the Human rights issue can be misunderstood as just another argument to force a Trade Agreement on Africa.
To prevent such a view, the European Union has developed a straight and honest position in contradiction to China’s: That Human Rights weigh more than economic interests. Such a position is not worth the paper it is written on if it does not apply for all nations equally, no matter how economically powerful they are or what natural resources they may have. Let’s not forget that actions speak much louder than words. How much is Angela Merkel’s speech on Human Rights violations in Zimbabwe worth, when on day after the summit French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi finalized business deals worth several billion Euros, selling weapons, planes and a nuclear power plant to Libya, paying ransom for a Palestine medic and some Bulgarian nurses who had been tortured and despite having knowledge of their innocence sentenced to death by the Libyan state?
Part 3 of the article takes a closer look at “success” of the 2005 elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The 2006 “democratic” elections in the DRC were celebrated by the international community as a great success. There was little choice, it had to be a success, because it prooved that you can perform free and fair elections in a country torn apart by a civil war. The UN peacekeeping force (MONUC), which includes 17,000 troops at a cost of roughly $1 billion a year, was the world’s largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation.
The election itself was supported with $460 million by the International Community.
The German army, which is only allowed to operate in foreign territory since the 1990s celebrated their biggest image success back home by offering security during the election in the capitol Kinshasa. The peacekeeping mission was used to quiet down critiques on German military missions, missions which have since then increased in number and intensity.
There is a question of success in the literal meaning of the word. The Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) led by Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba boycotted the election after they had claimed that their members and supporters were not given a fair opportunity to register for the vote. Étienne Tshisekedi a former Prime minister, who had been a political prisoner under Mobutu and Laurent Kabila had gained popularity enough to challenge Kabila and Bemba. He was also the only candidate with a serious chance, not having been involved in the civil war. The UDPS defined as their main goal- a non-violent change to democratic rule, a goal which they knew had minimal chances of success in this election. Even Catholic leaders in Congo called for a boycott.
The people of Congo therefore had a chance to democratically elect their warlord.
Monitors expressed concern about the election process, including ones from the Carter Center. MONUC reported that on August 3, on the third day of “chaotic poll-counting, a suspicious fire at a major Kinshasa election center deepened concerns over the transparency of the results.” According to MONUC,
On August 5, thousands in eastern DRC were fleeing clashes between the DRC army and forces affiliated with General Laurent Nkunda. According to the The Independent, Nkunda, who is “widely believed to be in third place in the race for the DRC’s presidency,” stated that he will respect the results, but along with over 30 other candidates, expressed “determination to resist results which are perceived to be unfair.”
After celebrating their success, the International Community withdraw their election troops and with it the international attention. Bemba fled into exile. The daily mass killings and rapes in Eastern Congo have continued, but have vanished from the headlines of international media. Since the election was termed a success there seems to be little interest in following up the aftermath and consequences.
Part 3 will deal with the elections in Uganda and will summarize conclusions.
Human Rights watch accuses local ODM leaders in the Rift valley region of organising atrocities
“Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that, after Kenya’s disputed elections, opposition party officials and local elders planned and organized ethnic-based violence in the Rift Valley, Human Rights Watch said today. (Read and comment here)
We are waiting for an official statement from ODM. They have to take actions now.
Number of reported rapes have doubled
Violence against women seems to explode. According to reuters , reported cases of rape and sexual attacks against women have doubled in areas of Kenya hit by political violence amid a climate of impunity for gangs carrying them out, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday. In an interview with Reuters, Kathleen Cravero, director of the world body’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, called for aid programs in the East African nation to make sure that vulnerable women and girls were protected from attack. “In Nairobi hospital and in the medical centers and hospitals around the areas of greatest violence, the number of rapes and sexual attacks being reported by women and being handled by medical personnel has doubled,” Cravero said. “What that tells us is that we have a very serious problem indeed because only a small percentage of rapes and sexual attacks are ever reported in Kenya or in many other countries.”Cravero stopped short of directly accusing the Kenyan government of ignoring the problem but said the political violence had led to “an environment that is tolerating very high levels of rape and sexual attack against women”. She said she was sure there was targeting of women for political or ethnic reasons although there was no evidence that either side was particularly responsible. But much of the sexual violence was opportunistic, she said.”Gangs find a woman who’s searching for firewood, gangs find a couple of young girls that are fetching water,” Cravero said. “There’s nothing to stop them, there’s a climate of impunity, they’re sure there will be no consequences, so it happens, and this is what we have to stop.”
We ask for support for setting up Rape crisis centers. For those wishing to contribute to the appeal for rape crisis centres, the bank details are available from email@example.com
The film-maker and member of the Coalition of Concerned Kenyan Writers Simiyu Barasa brings the discussion about the role of local and international media forward with the powerful essay “War journalism: Kenya’s newest tourist attraction” published on the kwani blog.
Barasa picks up the concept of “peace journalism” by the Norwegian Scholar John Galtun and showed how the local media tried to use their influence to promote peace and failed due to an international “war journalism”. He gives examples how cameras create stories and media attention is only drawn by violence. This is done by the very same media cooperation which thought it was their responsibility not to show any cruel pictures after 9/11 and during the Iraq war.
Charity event in Boston
People on the other side of the ocean will have the chance to raise money at a benefit concert in “The Roxy” in Boston, Ma on Feb. 2nd. Numerous Kenyan artist will preform. The money will go to the Kenyan Red Cross. It is organized by “Vuma Kenya”. For more information look up the Joseph Karoki blog.
Because the words “tribe” and “tribal” have had a great recurrence of no less than once in each media reporting about Kenya, Pambazuka Editors try to give a very detailed and lengthy definition that fits. What’s in a word? What does the word “tribe” carry? Here below Pambazuka Editors give you a few snippets of what is a long struggle to get US Mainstream media to stop using a racist and stereotypical lens in its coverage of Africa. One can find the fascinating discussion at www.h-net.org/~africa. They end with an excerpt from an Africa Action essay on the word.
A way forward?
Do we see a way forward in the Kenya’s stale-mate? Nation Media reports the news that the rivals Kibaki and Odinga are actually slated to meet together today at Harambee House.
President Kibaki and the Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga have both arrived at Nairobi’s Harambee House for the first face-to-face talks over the political crisis out of disputed election results. No agenda has been given for the talks brokered by a team of international mediators led by former UN chief Kofi Annan. Mr Odinga was accompanied by one of his party’s top officials, Mr William Ruto. President Kibaki arrived with five members of his Cabinet, including Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Ministers George Saitoti (Security), Martha Karua (Justice), Samuel Poghisio (Information) and Ali Mwakwere (Transport).
We eagerly await results of the talks, and cross our fingers for an end to the violence.
The second part of our article Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa about Ethiopia is out now. The next part will be about the election in in the Democratic Republic of Congo and and will be published in the following days.
The following analysis is a four-part series about the involvement, perception, actions, and reactions of the international community with special reference to the West, regarding elections in Africa.
Part 1 covers Malawi, a critique and analysis of the present situation and the up-coming 2009 elections and raises the question about international involvement in elections of a sovereign state.
Part 2 covers the 2005 general elections in Ethiopia and its aftermath.
Part 3 covers an analysis of the 2006 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the involvement of the international community.
Part 4 looks at Uganda and gives a conclusive analysis of the role, perception, actions, involvement and reactions of the international community in general towards election in Africa.
Part 1: Malawi
According to the Nyasa Times Blog (also quoted by the quite reliable Kenyan Jurist blog), Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika has praised Kenya’s “President” Mwai Kibaki and insinuated at Malawi’s opposition parties promising to apply what he described “Kibaki tactics” during the 2009 general elections in order to hold on to power.
A source who attended Mutharika’s New Years party organised for his relatives and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials at Sanjika Palace on Monday, heard the President talking to Minister for Presidential and Parliamentary Affairs, Davis Katsonga and acting DPP Secretary General, Hetherwick Ntaba.
“After getting sloshed, the President was loudly heard telling [Davis] Katsonga and [Hetherwick] Ntaba that he is resigned to do ‘a Kibaki’ in 2009 polls,” said our source, opting for anonymity.
Since the source remains anonymous it is not possible to verify the information. But whether this is true or not, looking at the upcoming election in Malawi, we have express our concern about how democratic this election will be.
Bingu wa Mutharika during the genral elections 2004 (c) AP from bbc
President Bingu wa Mutharika chose Malawi Electoral Commissioners – charged with the task of holding a free and fair 2009 general elections – without consultations with the opposition parties, a move aimed at having commissioners who can easily be twisted by his orders.
The opposition Malawi Congress Party [MCP] and United Democratic Front [UDF] cried foul and obtained an injunction restraining Mutharika from swearing in the commissioners for clearly breaching a constitutional provision.
The High Court Judge Healey Potani is yet to pass a ruling on the matter.
If the High Court allows the President to proceed, Malawi is facing a similar situation like Kenya where the Electoral Commission was also hand-picked by the government and opposition already questioning a fair election before people cue to vote.
We all witnessed what happened after the the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya Samuel Kivuitu announced a result that even he knew was not based on the vote of the people. And we cannot be hypocritically surprised if Malawi runs into a crisis.
To do a Kibaki
Of course, foreign institutions and governments have little rights to tell a sovereign state how to run their internal affairs. This is a sensitive issue, especially in a (post-)colonial context. But considering aid sanctions as justified in the case of Kenya, we have to ask the question about when to react to pull such sanctions.
It should be possible to openly address such issues between democratic partner nations. Unfortunately, there have been many cases in which industrial nations and International organisations have dealt with “Democratic” elections in a hypocritical way.
Lets look at some of the many examples of reactions to recent elections in Africa:
Part 2 covers the 2005 general elections in Ethiopia and its aftermath.