As we previously reported, the 27th of February is an international day of of public and online action in solidarity with the people of Kenya and to call on the Kenyan government to protect people from politically-motivated and ethnic violence.
Amnesty International is organizing streets demonstrations in the following locations on 27 February. Turn up and show your support...
Kampala, Uganda, 12:30 pm, Kololo Airstrip, corner of Wampewo Rd and Upper Kololo Terrace. A joint action with Amnesty International and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.
Washington DC, USA, 4:30-6:30pm, 27 February, - outside the Kenyan Embassy, 2249 R. Street N.W in Dupont Circle
Denver, Colorado, USA, (the sister city of Nairobi, Kenya), 6pm, 27 February, West Steps of the Capitol - Candlelight Vigil for the People of Kenya: Support Human Rights and Peace Now! [Please Bring a Flashlight or Lighter]
Los Angeles, USA, 4:30 pm, 27 February, Vigil at the Kenyan Consulate, Park Mile Plaza, Mezzanine Floor, 4801 Wilshire Boulevard
Montevideo, Uruguay, 27 February, 6.30 pm, Rambla Rep. Argentina
Mexico City, Mexico, 27 February, 18.00 - 21.00, outside Mexico City Cultural Centre [a vigil, 3 African bands and a slideshow of photos from Kenya]
Ottawa, Canada, 27 February, 4.00pm, High Commission of the Republic of Kenya, 415 Laurier Avenue East - intersection of King Edward and Laurier
Melbourne, Australia, 6pm, Parliament House steps, East Melbourne, join us for a vigil with our message calling to: PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF KENYA
Canberra, Australia, 1pm, in front of the Kenyan Embassy, QBE Building, 33-35 Ainslie St, Civic Square. We will be writing letters to the Kenyan government in solidarity with the Kenyan people to bring an end to the violence.
Brisbane, Australia, 4pm, Reddacliffe Place, George St, Brisbane, join us for a vigil to reach out to Kenya, and have a look at our giant hand!
London, UK, 17:00 to 19:00 pm, outside the Kenyan Embassy, 45 Portland Place, W1B 1AS
Belfast, UK, 28 February, 6:30pm, Club Rooms 3 and 4, Queens University Belfast Student Union, University Road
Berlin, Germany, 27 February, 17.30 -19.30, Kenyan Embassy, MARKGRAFENSTR.63
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga had a surprise visitor this week — a high-ranking politician from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition.
Gernot Erler, Germany’s deputy foreign minister, was secretly flown into Kenya at the request of Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General who is mediating between Kenya’s warring factions to resolve a crisis sparked by Kibaki’s disputed re-election last December.
Annan had turned to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to ask for an expert to assist in talks between Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Steinmeier entrusted the job to Erler.
Erler’s task was to explain the workings of Merkel’s grand coalition between her center-right Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, of which the minister is a member.
My visit was a surprise to all,” Erler told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on the last day of his mission. “But then everyone was really interested and had a lot of questions.”
Erler said his job was to explain the complicated arithmetic underlying the power-sharing model in Germany and how such a consensus-based system worked. Germany’s grand coalition came into being after federal elections in 2005, ending two months of political uncertainty after Merkel’s conservatives won a wafer-thin majority.
“My job was to present the model so that the Kenyans can see if a similar system could work for them,” Erler said. The minister had also brought along an English version of Germany’s coalition agreement with him so that the Kenyans could spend time studying it.
The German Coalition
Of course, it is hard to find similarities between the Kenyan crisis today and the post election situation in Germany in 2005. With more than 1000 lost lives lost and more than 300.000 displaced persons, the gaps to over come are tremendous.
Still, in order to look for a conflict solution it is worth to look at the concept of a “grand coalition”, when it makes sense to and whether it lasts.
A “grand coalition” is usually not the preferred model in a parliamentary democracy. The only exception for many years is the oldest democracy in the world: Switzerland. Here, government positions were distributed according to the seats in the Parliament. It worked because of a unique democratic culture, in which the will of power-sharing and consensus decisions are high valued. The position of the head of government was rotated among the ministers. The system worked only as long as Politicians respected certain rules and it failed when the eccentric right wing populist billionaire Blocher broke the political consensus by campaigning with a brutal anti-Immigrants campaign. He crossed the line and forced the other Parties to unite against him. It showed how much the system was depending on the acceptance of democratic rules by Politicians.
The 2005 German general election ended up in a Parliamentary “deadlock” situation. The ruling coalition of chancellor Schröder’s SPD and the Grüne Party lost their majority. But Merkel’s CDU/CSU did not reach more than 50% together with their preferred partner FDP. The 614 seats of Parliament were distributed as follows: SPD 222, CDU 180, CSU 46, Grüne 51, FDP 61 and the Linke 54.
Right after the election both Merkel and Schröder claimed to have the mandate to form the government. Schröder claimed to be the head of the biggest Party in Parliament. Since CDU and CSU are partners, Merkel had was head of the biggest Party group (The CSU is a Bavarian tribalist version of the CDU).
The preliminary condition for the German grand coalition to work was that one had to step down from this position. It was for sure that chancellor Schröder would not take any other position in the government than that of Chancellor and the CDU/CSU would have never accepted a non CDU/CSU chancellor. In order to start negotiations SPD had to call upon Schröder to resign.
Another factor was Angela Merkel. She was much more accepted by the SPD as a chancellor of grand coalition than some other CDU/CSU politicians. Edmund Stoiber, who ran in the previous election for CDU/CSU would have not been accepted by the SPD.
“It is a Grand Coaltion, if it does not move in any direction .” (c) suika
Both Parties are currently not happy about the situation. Every controversial issue, every local election becomes a test how much the coalition can take. Even though the government has a comfortable majority in both Parliament houses, great changes have not been made and issues like the reform of the health system have not been toughed. Both partners announced they do not want to continue the coalition after the next general election.
A German like “grand coalition” is not a good solution, but sometimes may be the only possibility. It works only if both partners step down from radical positions and verbal attacks. It cannot be a solution for a long period and most important is that the crucial changes are made immediately.
One lesson might be learned from another German “grand coalition”. In 1968 protest grew against the SPD/CDU/CSU coalition and ended up in a the formation of the “Out of Parliament opposition” and the growth of a political civil society. This is something that might help the Kenyan political development as well.
In Berlin, Germany there will be two discussion and information events about the current political crisis in Kenya.
The first one is organized by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, a political foundation associated with the party “die Grünen”. Guests are the journalist Marc Engelhardt (taz, Berliner Zeitung) and Dr. Gero Erdmann from GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Institute of African Affairs, Hamburg.
It will take place at the Heinich Böll foundation, Rosenthaler Str. 40/41, Hackesche Höfe on Februrary 20th 2008. It will be held in German.
The second event will be hosted by the Society for International Development -Berlin Chapter and it will take place at the “Afrika-Haus”. It is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a political foundation associated with the ruling party CDU. Invited are Ralph-Michael Peters, political expert of the Core team of the EU election observing mission in Kenya 2007 and former member of the GIGA research group “Democratisation and Civil society in Kenya”, Gideon Ochanda Ogolla, Program Officer of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in Kenya and National Coordinator of the Institute for Civic Affairs and Development – ICAD, Nairobi and Kerstin Müller, MP and State-Secretary of the German foreign ministry. It will be held in English on the 28th of Februrary 2008.
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?
The 2005 general elections in Ethiopia showed the ambivalent reactions by the International Community concerning Democratic elections in Africa. Two factors are of importance in understanding the relations between the “Industrial States” and Ethiopia. One is the “geo-strategic” role of Ethiopia at the Horn of Africa. Even though the invasion of Somalia came after the election, it has been the key ally of the US in the region. The second factor is the great involvement of the International community in aid relief. No other African country has received the amount of financial and food aid in the last 25 years than Ethiopia. One might presume that the total dependency on foreign aid of Ethiopia makes it easier for the International community to insist on democratic elections. But some say that the Ethiopian government blackmails the international community. While Ethiopia has enough money to fight several wars at the same time, it can not afford to feed their own people. Applying aid sanctions would essentially mean to directly kill people.
The European Union used their pressure on the Ethiopian government to proceed with fair and free multi-party elections (the third elections in Ethiopia's 3000 year history). The International community expressed its interest in the election by sending observers, including an EU delegation and the independent Carter Center. Fomer US President Jimmy Carter who personally led the team of observers pointed out that the opposition was granted access to the state owned electronic media. Some reports of intimidation and harassment were collected by the Carter Center.
Early results showed the opposition with a big lead, sweeping all of the contested seats in the capital Addis both in the race for parliamentary as well as local government seats. By the afternoon of the 16th of May, the opposition claimed it was halfway towards winning a majority in the national parliament with only about a third of the constituencies reporting complete results. By Late May 16, trailing badly in the preliminary report covering just under 200 seats released by the National Election Board, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) announced that it had won more than 317 seats out of 547, while conceding that opposition parties won all 23 seats in the capital city Addis Ababa. The two major opposition parties, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) claimed on that same day that they had won 185 of the approximately 200 seats for which the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) had released preliminary results. The CUD lodged complaints in 139 constituencies, the UEDF lodged 89 complaints, while the EPRDF has raised concerns over irregularities in more than 50 seats. Including the complaints lodged by small parties, complaints concerning the results in 299 parliamentary seats were lodged.
By law, the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) was required to announce the official results on June 8. However, the vote tallying process was jeopardized when the opposition claimed that the Addis Ababa vote was rigged and during the evening of May 16, the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency, outlawed any public gathering, assumed direct command of the security forces, and replaced the capital city police with federal police and special forces drawn from elite army units. The NEBE, simultaneously, ordered the vote tallying process to stop, an order which was not rescinded for nearly a week, yet another action against which the opposition and the independent election monitors strongly objected.
On July 8, the NEBE released the first official results for 307 of the 547 national parliamentary seats. Of the 307 seats, the EPRDF had won 139, while CUD and UEDF won 93 and 42, respectively. Smaller parties and independent candidates won the remaining 33 seats. However, Berhanu Nega, vice-chairman of the CUD criticized the process on July 20, claiming that "The investigation process was a complete failure. “Our representatives and witnesses have been harassed, threatened, barred and killed upon their return from the hearings."
On August 9, official results were released, acknowledging that the ruling EPRDF had won 296 of the total 524 seats — about 56 % — enabling it to form a government, while its allied parties won 22 seats. The UEDF won 52 seats. Berhanu said his party, which had officially won 109 seats, was debating whether they would challenge the results in court. Repeat elections were scheduled for August 21 in 31 areas where either irregularities were reported or results were challenged.
Opposition parties decided to boycott the related August 21 elections in the Somali Region. The CUD withdrew 10 of the 17 candidates it was fielding in Somali region, but the Western Somali Democratic Party, the Somali Democratic Alliance Forces and Del Wabe People's Democratic Movement who had planned to field 43 candidates for the Federal Parliamentary Assembly and 273 candidates for the regional parliament in the regional capital of Jijiga, also announced that they would boycott this election.
On September 5, the NEBE released its final results, in which the EPRDF retained its control of the government with 327 seats, or 59 % of the vote. Opposition parties won 174 seats, or 32 % of the vote. The CUD alone won 20 % of the vote.
Protests against the results, led by Coalition for Democracy and Unity, began on November 1, 2005, and prompted more than 60,000 arrests. On October 18, 2006, the draft report of a 10-member public inquiry into election-related unrests was released to Associated Press (AP). It concluded that a total of 199 people (193 civilians and six policemen) were killed and 763 injured. The European Union's chief observer during the elections, Ana Maria Gomes
massive human rights violations."
University students Protesting against the election fraud
According to Amnesty International, opposition party activists, leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), journalists and civil society activists were brought to trial . They faced charges including treason, outrage against the Constitution and other capital charges. The 76 defendants included Hailu Shawel, the CUD president, Berhanu Negga, an economics professor, and Mesfin Woldemariam, a retired geography professor. In addition, 34 prominent Ethiopians in exile were charged in their absence. Five Voice of America radio journalists who were US citizens were among nine defendants discharged before the trial started.
All but three defendants refused to defend themselves on the ground that they did not expect a fair trial. All considered they were prisoners of conscience and sent a trial observer.
In the trial of Kifle Tigeneh, an elected member of parliament 32 other people and some defendants complained in court that they had been tortured to make false confessions. Berhane Mogese, a lawyer, was on trial with 22 others.
Despite the knowledge of election fraud and serious human rights violations the US Department of State immediately acknowledged the results which fuelled the anger of the opposition and led to more violence.
Ethiopia remains one of the main recepient of European aid, despite their tremendous military budget. Some improvements have been made in the development aid sector and it seems that behind the curtain, diplomatic pressure has been used to reduce corruption and improve infrastructure.
The democratic aspect of the election was sacrificed by the International community, at the altar of good partnership and influence in the region.
Hopefully there are some conclusions drawn out of the fiasco and the tremendous loss of credibility by the European Union and the US. The German Prof. Rolf Hofmeier, interprets the US State Departments U-turn towards Kibaki as an acknowledgement of the mistakes made in Ethiopia in 2005.
Part III will deal with the role with the Internatioal Community and the elections in the DR Congo and will be posted in the following days
There has been a lot of speculation how much the Kibaki government can be influenced by economic or aid sanctions.
Reuters Facts Box reports :
An EU official said on Monday the 27-nation bloc, one of Kenya’s top donors, was considering suspending all aid and imposing sanctions if mediation efforts to resolve the crisis failed. The EU provided 290 million Euro ($430 million) in aid to Kenya between 2002 and 2007. A further 383 million Euro are planned for 2008-2013. A big percentage of this goes to direct budgetary aid.
USAID is supporting more than $300 million in development activities in Kenya, including education, health, economic growth, democracy and governance, and peace and security programs.
In June 2007 the World Bank approved a credit of $80 million for Kenya to expand the fight against HIV/AIDS.
As of September 2007, the World Bank’s portfolio in Kenya consisted of 16 active operations with a total commitment of $919 million.
Lets take a further look into complementary facts:
According to the CIA World Fact Book, Kenya’s revenues as of 2007 were $4.448 billion and the Expenditures $5.3777 billion, including capital expenditures. This leaves a glaring deficit of almost a billion US Dollars. How does Kenya go about patching this? One can include the direct budgetary support by the EU. However, from the figures above, it is not sufficient to cover the deficit.
According to the 2007 budget speech,
The overall budget deficit (including grants) in 2007/08 would be KShs.109.8 billion, equivalent to 5.3% of GDP. Overall expenditures in 2007/08, excluding amortization payments and restructuring costs, will amount to Ksh.580.4 billion, about 28.2% of GDP, up from KShs.427.6 billion or 23.4 percent of GDP in 2006/07.
The government based their calculations on a number of factors. They predicted that:
in line with Government policy, there would be a shift of resources from recurrent to capital expenditures and core-poverty programs
the share of recurrent expenditure was projected to decline sharply from the level of 2006/07, while domestically financed capital expenditures were planned to increase from Ksh.54.7 billion to KSh.85.1 billion or from 3.0% of GDP to 4.1% of GDP.
Net external financing amounting to KShs.39.8 billion or 1.9% of GDP, was expected to cover part of this budget deficit
KShs.70 billion or 3.4% of GDP, to be financed through domestic borrowing (Kshs.34 billion) and net privatization receipts of about KShs.36 billion.
Inflation remaining under control
However not to be ignored is the fact (stated in the budgetary report) that this structure above was based on and set against the background of the medium-term macro-fiscal framework and a continuation of the recent strong economic performance, with real GDP expected to increase by 6.5- 7.0% in 2007/08, largely propelled by continued strong performance across all sectors.
With a review of the post-election situation and the loss of revenue that Kenya has undergone and is continuing to undergo, a retardation and even decline of economic growth, one can see an eventuality of a total collapse of the budget. Point five above would even bite more if the sanctions threatened by the EU are carried out. The government is heavily reliant on the world bank and its projects/ programmes. We do not know how far the World Bank would go to carry out these sanctions in review of their seeming tolerance of the government.
The fear that China would fill the gap without preliminary conditions is in our view over-rated. China’s interest in Africa so far has been hunger for natural resources. Looking again into the CIA Fact Book Kenya’s lack of natural resources stand out. And the little that Kenya has, seems to be already under China’s control: In what the East African called cynically a “an unprecedented act of generosity”, the government of Kenya gave the state-owned National Oil Corporation of China – CNOOC – exclusive rights to its hotly contested areas where oil might be found.
If a co-ordinated freeze aid to Kenya campaign is carried out by all donors in the face of the turmoil and violence, I believe the government and opposition will shape up and sit with the mediators to bring an end to the stale-mate that has cost many a Kenyan lives. It is the most effective way and we urge a consideration of this.