Eyes on Kenya

Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa – Part IV: Uganda 2006

Saturday, 26. January 2008 von Jannek

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?

Read also Part I, II and III

Habari ya leo – Today’s news from Kenya 01/25/2008

Friday, 25. January 2008 von Jannek

One small hand shake for two guys, one moving moment for a nation.

 

It was a big gesture, but by now nothing more is achieved. Raila Odinga has ruled out taking a new post of prime minister in President Kibaki’s Government. Odinga said the only three acceptable options would be Kibaki’s resignation, a vote re-run, or power-sharing leading to constitutional reform then a new election. The ODM leader said he was offended by Kibaki’s comments afterwards that he was Kenya’s “duly-elected” president. “Those remarks were unfortunate, calling himself duly-elected and sworn-in president. That is the bone of contention. We want negotiations with integrity,” he said. (Nation)

Every step towards peace is a right step, but the question is not Kibaki or Odinga or Kibaki and Odinga. The question is whether they agree on a constituion reform to limit the missuse of power.

Power sharing

 

(c) BBC

Not even willing to share their umbrellas: Museveni and Gaddafi

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Libya counterpart Muammar Gaddafi have proposed that President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga should share power. Two experts of power sharing have spoken: Gaddafi is in his 39th year of non-power sharing, while Museveni only achieved 21 years. Both are known for their love for democratic elections. Opposition politicians from Lybia are sharing their place on the Amnesty International report, while Uganda’s oppostion leader Dr Besigye shares the court bench for treason (more on this in the last Part of our article Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa)

 

Violence in Nakuru

The killing continues and spread towards Nakuru, where houses have been torched. Kenya Army soldiers have been called out to beef up security in Nakuru town after rival militia blocked key roads and destroyed property in fresh escalation of violence.

Screaming and wailing rent the air at Kisima and Kaptembwa Estates in the western part of Nakuru Town all night on Thursday as armed gangs torched houses.

 There are reports about the use of army forces and  Mungiki involvment.

Kenneth Marende, social injustice and a fair salary

R. from the African woman blog quoted freshly elected parliamentary speaker Kenneth Marende, decried the income inequality that saw one man taking home a paltry 5000 Ksh every month (71.5 US dollars), while another took home 1,000,000 Ksh (over 14,000 US dollars) saying this inequality must be corrected if stability is to be achieved. In the same interview just a little later he defended the exorbitant pay that our legislators receive, a minimum of 800,000 Ksh (approximately 11,500 US dollars) on the basis that the house was constituted of a good number of professionals who earned hefty salaries in their previous jobs and that their hefty salaries freed them to concentrate on house business.

 

We just published our second last part of the article Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa, about Congo. The last part about Uganda will be posted soon.

Habari ya leo – Today’s news from Kenya 01/23/2008

Wednesday, 23. January 2008 von Jannek

While Annan, Benjamin Mkapa and Graca Machel arrive in Nairobi, the killing continues. 7 people died in Nandi, Rift Valley region. At least this time it seems that none of the mediators got insulted by Mr Mutua.We appreciate the presents of Mrs Graca Machel. Finally the UN resolution 1325 on women, peace and security is being taken seriously.

Graca Machel

We do not appreciate the Presence of Ugandan President Museveni. Not only that rumours about Ugandan military operating on in Kenya are so hard to kill, that the Uganda army now mad newspaper advertisements in Kenya to say they are not in the country (We still have not found any proof that they have been in the country, but the advertisement almost leads to the question: What do they have to hide?). Looking on the number of Ugandan opposition leaders in exile, his presence during the mediation does not seem to be positively influential. We will take a closer look at how Museveni won his last election in Part 4 of the analysis: “Eyes on the International Community concerning elections in Africa.”


Museveni

Good news is that both sides said they want the International Criminal Court to investigate the killings. Hopefully actions will follow words.

 

 

The Orange Democratic Movement has announced it will file a case against the Government at the International Criminal Court (ICC). In their case, the party announced that they had named President Kibaki and his Cabinet, Roads minister John Michuki, Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, AP commandant Kinuthia Mbugua and his GSU commandant Mathew Iteere as the people they want investigated and tried. Prof Nyong’o said about 3,000 guns and uniforms had disappeared from the GSU camp in Nairobi and were being used by gangs masquerading as police officers, but could not give any evidence.

African women thought she saw a change in the police tactic in the area between Kibera and Ligi Ndogo grounds where ODM prayers were held. It looked like the police forces would manage to keep it peaceful. Unfortunately her hopes were too optimistic, police lobbed teargas into the Ligi Ndogo grounds and a mob tried to burn down the Telkom Posta building on Ngong Road. The pictures of the mob hit the international news,

the mourning and grief at the funerals did not.

 

John Barbieri from the US Coalition for Peace with Truth and Justice in Kenya published the interesting article “The poverty of international journalism” in which he analyses the role of the US state department in East Africa and also criticises the role of international media. He quotes from Rebecca Wanjiku’s blog:

“...the mainstream U.S. media appears to send the following double message: we are not interested in Africans or African politics, that is unless there is a full out Rwanda-like bloodbath (with pictures of gruesome machete attacks and all, of course) so we can stereotype all Africans as the savages we think they are.”

 

The well read blog from Joseph Karoki raises the question whether ODM could have done more to prevent the ethnic clashes especially in Rift valley and states that Raila could have done more. He posted a BBC interview of Raila Odinga, in which he denies that ODM could have done more. We also recommend Wandia Njoya’s post "Maybe Kibaki and Raila Are Powerless To Stop the Senseless Slaughter (But Reconciling Them Is Still Worth A Try)" in which she compares the situation in Rwanda with Kenya, coming to the conclusion that “maybe we would have avoided this tragedy if Kenyans had not deluded themselves that we are not like other African countries.” We do not necessarily agree with all her points, since there are many differences between the history of African nations, but read it for yourself.

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