On 4th of march 2008 Rosa Luxemburg foundation, a political foundation of the German Party “the Linke” holds a discussion about the political situation in Kenya. Speakers are the German swing musician Andrej Hermlin, who was arrested in Kenya in Janurary 2008, Dr. Claus Dieter König and Member of the German parliament for the Linke- Hüseyin Aydin. It will take place at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, at Franz-Mehring-Platz 1, Seminar room 3 (1. floor), close to the Train station “Ostbahnhof” at 18:00. The discussion will be held in German. For further information contact Jörg Schultz (schultz[at]rosalux.de).
Rosa Luxemburg: “Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters”
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
According to a press release from the International Medical Corps (IMC), Kenya could face a serious food shortage and subsequent large-scale malnutrition in the coming year if insecurity persists. International Medical Corps (IMC) is concerned that a shortage of maize production during 2008 and long-term displacement could severely affect the nutritional status, general health, and livelihood of the displaced as well as that of the general population. According to the Kenyan Red Cross almost 270,000 displaced are currently living in camps. A similar number is thought to be living with host families. Most of the forcibly displaced have not only lost their homes and belongings but also their economic base, which was destroyed in the violence.
“At the moment we are mainly concerned about the well-being of pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five years old in the camps and among the host community,” says Kristi Ladd, International Medical Corps Nutrition Specialist and advisor to the emergency response team. “These groups are most likely to be the first to show signs of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. We must have a screening and support system in place to detect malnutrition and start further interventions.”
The current situation demands continued nutritional and food security monitoring to enable aid agencies to anticipate threats and catch cases of wasting and other indications of malnutrition early on. Health providers must coordinate with agencies currently distributing food to make sure that at-risk patients are identified and are receiving supplementary food if necessary.
International Medical Corps will implement a multi-tiered approach and incorporate nutritional services into its ongoing primary health care programs. The moderately malnourished will be provided with supplemental food. Severely malnourished patients will receive ready-to-use-therapeutic-food (RUTF) either at IMC facilities or in community-based programs. International Medical Corps may also support existing facilities and government referral hospitals to ensure that malnourished patients receive the necessary care.
A Long-Term Problem
According to preliminary assessments by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kenyan farmers are already far behind in soil preparation. In the fertile Rift Valley, post-election violence forced at least 180,000 to flee their homes — more than half of the total displaced population in the country — many of them small holdings owners or farm workers. The area, normally producing about 70 percent of Kenya’s maize crop, is still gripped in an uneasy truce between hostile communities.
With the beginning of the planting season just weeks away, many farmers will not be able to return to their plots in time. In conversations with the displaced, International Medical Corps learned that many crop growers also saw their remaining harvest stolen and their land now being farmed by members of rival groups. This development could further worsen community relations and make it unlikely that the forcibly displaced will be able to return and catch up with the planting season, which usually starts in March.
“More and more factors are emerging that threaten to prolong the humanitarian crisis in Kenya, and food insecurity is one of them,” says Edi Cosic, International Medical Corps Director of Emergency Response. “Kenyans might need our support in more sectors and for a longer period of time than initially anticipated.”
Media reports quote a joint report soon to be released by the U.N and US Agency for International Development (USAID), anticipating that 100,000 hectares may not be cultivated for the March rainy season and estimating losses of 300,000 tons of various crop harvests.
Displaced and Host Communities Affected
Most likely, increased food insecurity and malnourishment will not only affect the displaced but also the population as a whole, particularly the urban slum dwellers and households that have taken in displaced family members. The complete loss of their economic base puts significant pressure on host families, which often have to get by with a marginal amount of food while also having more mouths to feed.
The violence has also increased transport and farm supply costs, sharply raising wholesale and retail prices. The very poor and less mobile, in particular, feel the effect of rising prices.
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 impact of the post election crisis on the Kenyan Health system is devastating. In the past years the Kenyan Health system has made some great progress in the prevention and treatment of Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS. Now Kenya is facing several tremendous set backs.
First of all the system has to handle the primary crises: Sever injured people needed treatment. Displaced persons have to gather in camps and challenge the local health system. In those camps people live close together and steps have to be taken to prevent the out break of epidemics.
Violence against women has always been a problem in Kenya. But in the past month the number of reported rapes has exploded. Most cases were reported in hospitals from women who needed immediate physical treatment. The real number of rapes has been much higher, since many women do not report any attacks. Women are not only left with a sever trauma, which would require experienced support. Also the risk of suffering from an STD, in the worst cases from HIV is burdening those women.
With the help of donors and a the great effort of Kenyan Health workers, Antiretroviral treamtent (ART) has been implemented even in rural areas. This is even under normal conditions a great challenge. People on ART can not stop to take the drugs, in order to prevent drug resistance. So drug supply should never run short. With the crisis all over the country it becomes a problem. And keeping up the treatment for the displaced persons seems to be almost impossible. The long term effect is an increase of drug resistance, which can lead to severe health problems, as well as it requires much more expensive drugs, which become for some patience unaffordable. The drug resistant virus can also be transmitted, causing the failure of normal treatment regimes in new patients.
The treatment of HIV/AIDS is only possible with well trained medical staff. Especially in the health professions work migration with in the country is high. With violence along ethnic lines many health works were effected and are now displaced. Other will refuse to go into certain areas in the future. With the ongoing crises well trained medical staff will look for other options abroad. People with experience in HIV /AIDS treatment are needed all over Africa, some jobs are well paid through international organisations. And it becomes more interesting to look for options in industrial nations, e.g. the United Kingdom. The “brain drain” will add to the negative long term effect on Kenya’s health system.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (IRIN) has summarized the situation:
Healthcare threatened by political crisis
NAIROBI, 7 February 2008 (IRIN) – Health officials are concerned about the long-term impact of Kenya’s political crisis on healthcare, especially in areas hardest hit by violence since the end of December 2007.
“The most worrying issue is that of drug resistance among patients of chronic diseases,” Ian van Engelgem, the medical coordinator of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), told IRIN on 5 February.
He said HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) patients who had missed out on their regular medication for up to a month due to displacement and violence could develop resistance to the drugs.
“Right now a lot of HIV patients are on first-line drugs; they could require second-line drugs, which are more expensive, if they develop resistance as a result of skipping their ARV [anti-retroviral] medication for a period of time,” Van Engelgem said.
The fact that internally displaced persons (IDPs) have better access to healthcare compared with the host community where the camps are located is another concern.
“If IDPs have access to free healthcare, the same should also apply to them [host communities] as they are equally affected by the unrest,” Van Engelgem said.
Displaced health workers
Joanne Greenfield, malaria adviser for the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in Nairobi, said displacement and ongoing violence in parts of the country could lead to a crisis in the provision of healthcare in the affected regions.
“The security situation, especially in the Rift Valley [Province], is affecting the provision of health services to the general public as a significant number of health workers are either displaced and/or cannot report to their duty stations,” Greenfield said.
WHO, the lead agency for the health cluster of humanitarian actors – comprising UN agencies, NGOs and government organisations – has also expressed concern over the health of thousands of IDPs, mostly women and children, in the Rift Valley.
On 6 February, newspaper reports indicated that chicken pox and diarrhoea had broken out in two IDP camps in Naivasha, a town in Rift Valley Province, which has been severely affected by the violence.
“The number of sites hosting IDPs appears to increase by the day,” the agency said in a statement. “Initial WHO assessment has found that these sites are very crowded, with poor shelter, water supply, sanitation (in some camps, toilet to person ratio is 1 for 500), food shortages, no cooking fuel, precarious access to healthcare and shortages of antibiotics, children’s medicines, malaria medicines and life-saving drugs for chronic illness. Nearby hospitals are also facing similar shortages of drugs and supplies.”
In a worrying development, WHO said, hospitals in the region had reported dramatic increases in cases of sexual violence. The agency said counselling services in most IDP sites were not available, including for reproductive health, sexual violence or HIV/AIDS.
“In many settings, survivors have no access to even the minimum health and psychological support, leaving them vulnerable to a range of potential negative health problems, including HIV/AIDS,” WHO stated.
George Mugenya, the medical superintendent of health at the Rift Valley General Provincial Hospital in Nakuru, said services were slowly returning to normal but the displacement remained a key concern.
“When the violence was intense, we put elective cases on hold to handle only emergency cases; now that it is calmer, we are noticing that some services are still affected because of the displacement of some of the medical staff,” he said. “Some workers have not reported to duty while others come irregularly and this has affected services such as those offered in the maternity section but, overall, things are returning to normal.”
He said the challenge was in re-stocking the hospital’s medical supplies and reviving clinic services for patients of chronic diseases.
Teams led by WHO officials visited the towns of Eldoret and Nakuru to coordinate the health cluster activities. The teams visited IDP camps and hospitals to monitor disease outbreaks as well as the availability of medical supplies and health workers.
According to WHO, the biggest worry at all sites was diarrhoea in children as well as acute respiratory infections. It was also concerned about irregular access to malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB medicines, while patients with asthma, hypertension and diabetes also lacked access.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health, together with WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Kenya Red Cross Society and other health NGOs, undertook a joint health assessment on 30 January of Uasin Gishu district in the Rift Valley, which is hosting 150,000 IDPs in 11 camps.
As a result, the medical officer reported that a mass immunisation against measles and polio, as well as the de-worming of children and provision of Vitamin A supplements, would begin in February.
The health officials also discussed the possibility of introducing mobile services for areas where normal services had been disrupted.
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.
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.