Eyes on Kenya

A world-over overview

Tuesday, 15. April 2008 von flikawa

Its been a while since we have written something here. Well, we too, just like you, have been waiting with bated breath to see what the face of the Kenyan cabinet in the coalition is going to look like. We have let it out now, though not in full. Concerning the cabinet, The Nation and The Standard have a comprehensive listing. What is really heartening is the 13 women that are in the cabinet, the most Kenya has ever seen. Kudos to the both sides for that.

Lets try looking forward, now that the past is being pushed aside for newer memories. Lets look at the face of the world and not forget Kenya. World Bank head Robert Zoellick warned that 100 million people in poor countries could be pushed deeper into poverty by spiraling prices. From Mexico to Pakistan, protests have turned violent. Rioters tore through three cities in the West African nation of Burkina Faso last month, burning government buildings and looting stores. Days later in Cameroon, a taxi drivers’ strike over fuel prices mutated into a massive protest about food prices, leaving around 20 people dead. Similar protests exploded in Senegal and Mauritania late last year. And Indian protesters burned hundreds of food-ration stores in West Bengal last October, accusing the owners of selling government-subsidized food on the lucrative black market.

You do not need a crystal ball to predict that Kenya is on its best way to join this list. There have been starving people in times where Kibaki’s government took the credit for being East Africa’s most successful economic-forward-moving government. But with Kenya’s economy shredded, still thousands of displaced persons and fields in Rift valley neglected during the violence, the country is facing a whole different situation, almost impossible to solve without foreign help. With 100 million people facing the crisis and only some hundred million from the international community, Kenya will find itself at the end of the list if they do not shape up now and let any bits of yields from the economic restructuring trickle down to the people. Otherwise, we are going to be one hungry, dissatisfied people very soon. I have my ears on the ground for anything they do towards this.

The BBC special report takes a look at the facts and figures behind rising food prices across the globe.

With Kenya’s wheat and maize production severely tampered with due to the unrest, one can be sure that this is going to hit Kenya harder than the rest of the world. One thing though is for sure: At least 42 cabinet members are not in fear of being hungry. Kudos to your pockets, oh ye soon-to-be-hungry Kenyan taxpayers!

Berthold Brecht wrote: “However much you twist, whatever lies you tell, Food is the first thing, morals follow on.” and Bob Marley sang: “A hungry mob is an angry mob”. Haiti prooved them both right. It is time for action now, so Kenya will not turn into a Haiti like situation. While the post election violence slowed down when the political leaders saw their chances to get their share of power, a hungry mob cannot be called to order: In the Rift valley violence pangas, spears and bows were used, in the cattle fights up north, kalashnikovs were used instead. Do get going, our dear Leaders.

The full text of the power-sharing deal signed by Kibaki and Odinga

Friday, 29. February 2008 von Jannek

ACTING TOGETHER FOR KENYA: AGREEMENT ON THE PRINCIPLES OF PARTNERSHIP OF THE COALITION GOVERNMENT.

Preamble:

The crisis triggered by the 2007 disputed presidential election has brought to the surface deep-seated and long-standing divisions within Kenyan society. If left unaddressed, these divisions threaten the very existence of Kenya as a unified country. The Kenyan people are now looking to their leaders to ensure that their country will not be lost.

Given the current situation, neither side can realistically govern the country without the other. There must be real power-sharing to move the country forward and begin the healing and reconciliation process.

With this agreement, we are stepping forward together, as political leaders, to overcome the current crisis and to set the country on a new path. As partners in a coalition government, we commit ourselves to work together in good faith as true partners, through constant consultation and willingness to compromise.

This agreement is designed to create an environment conducive to such a partnership and to build mutual trust and confidence. It is not about creating positions that reward individuals. It seeks to enable Kenya's political leaders to look beyond partisan considerations with a view to promoting the greater interests of the nation as a whole. It provides the means to implement a coherent and far-reaching reform agenda, to address the fundamental root causes of recurrent conflict, and to create a better, more secure, more prosperous Kenya for all.

To resolve the political crisis, and in the spirit of coalition and partnership, we have agreed to enact the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008, whose provisions have been agreed upon in their entirety by the parties hereto and a draft copy is appended hereto.

Its key points are:

* There will be a Prime Minister of the Government of Kenya, with authority to coordinate and supervise the execution of the functions and affairs of the Government of Kenya.

* The Prime Minister will be an elected member of the National Assembly and the parliamentary leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, or of a coalition, if the largest party does not command a majority.

* Each member of the coalition shall nominate one person from the National Assembly to be appointed a Deputy Prime Minister.

* The Cabinet will consist of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, the two Deputy Prime Ministers and the other Ministers. The removal of any Minister of the coalition will be subject to consultation and concurrence in writing by the leaders.

* The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers can only be removed if the National Assembly passes a motion of no confidence with a majority vote.

* The composition of the coalition government will at all times take into account the principle of portfolio balance and will reflect their relative parliamentary strength.

* The coalition will be dissolved if the Tenth Parliament is dissolved; or if the parties agree in writing; or if one coalition partner withdraws from the coalition.

* The National Accord and Reconciliation Act shall be entrenched in the Constitution.

Having agreed on the critical issues above, we will now take this process to Parliament. It will be convened at the earliest moment to enact these agreements. This will be in the form of an Act of Parliament and the necessary amendment to the Constitution.

We believe by these steps we can together in the spirit of partnership bring peace and prosperity back to the people of Kenya who so richly deserve it.

Source: Reuters AlertNet 

Kibaki and Odinga signing coalition deal

Friday, 29. February 2008 von Jannek

President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga Thursday signed a deal that will see them share power through the creation of a Prime Minister position.

The deal, brokered by Africa Union chairman President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Mr Kofi Annan, will see the creation of a grand coalition sharing power according to party strength in Parliament.

The deal provides that the PM will coordinate and supervise Ministers, while Cabinet positions will be shared proportionally according to party strength in Parliament.

The President will have the authority to sack Cabinet members, but only with written agreement from leaders of the respective coalition party.

The Cabinet will comprise the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers.

The coalition will collapse at the end of the current Parliament, or if the parties so agree, or if one partner withdraws.

The signing at Nairobi’s Harambee House was witnessed by diplomats and broadcast live on national television.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga first signed the agreement, then President Kikwete and Mr Annan appended their signatures as witnesses.

The agreement was the result of a five-hour meeting chaired by President Kikwete involving Mr Annan, President Kibaki and Raila Odinga.

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=h5KavYaWM0U]

And this is how Kofi Anan explains the deal:

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=rF1ac_j58tA]

But let us not forget, how it sounded just some days ago:

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=QJ-Yns8FxjI]

Still, the coalition depends on the good will of the protagonists. It is a deal between Odinga and Kibaki, but there are many more characters who want their share of the deal. As soon as there is no Kofi Anan in Kenya anymore, the Coalition will become fragile. It all depends how much issues will be dealt with in next weeks before it comes into a standstill.

Background information on the political crisis in Kenya

Friday, 22. February 2008 von Jannek

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)

Constitution

The Draft Constitution of Kenya, known as the Boma’s draft, was adopted by the National Constitutional Conference on 15th of march 2004.

Economy
The potential impact of economic sanctions on the Kenyan government” takes a closer look at the Kenyan economy and delivers useful statistics and numbers.

The Reuter’s fact box gives an overview about the “Aid to Kenya”, the CIA fact book delivers more economic figures.

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.

Ethnic Violence

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.

Health
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.

Land distribution

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.

Media

Reuter’s alertnet posted an article by Joanne Tomkinson called “MEDIAWATCH: Kenyan media inciting ethnic hatred” on Februray 7th 2008. It deals with the local radio stations promoting ethnic hatred.

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.

Political Parties
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.

Power-sharing

The full text of the power-sharing deal was signed by Kibaki and Odinga on February 28th 2008.

Religion
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.

Women's rights
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.

 

PNU blocking Annan’s efforts and stagnating the talks

Wednesday, 20. February 2008 von flikawa

According to Standard : There could be (could have been) a real possibility, that the two rival groups are edging closer to a power sharing deal, understood to be the creation of the office of a Prime Minister and two deputies, even as the Presidency and the Vice Presidency are retained.

However, this seemingly positive development was overshadowed by statements by President Kibaki and Party of National Unity MPs and ministers, who appeared to pour cold water on real power sharing.
“It can’t be an illusion, power sharing must be real,” US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice on Monday told PNU and ODM — the two protagonists in the disputed and discredited presidential election.

PNU opposed to PM Post
But on Tuesday, Government negotiators and MPs attending a PNU Parliamentary Group meeting fought the proposed power sharing and pushed for “accommodating or co-opting” ODM into Government. The MPs and President Kibaki appeared to speak in one voice as they argued against a quick power-sharing deal as pressed for by Rice in Nairobi.
The Government insisted that any deal must be worked out within the current Constitution, and any other arrangement would have to follow later through constitutional reforms.

It was understood that the Government side is set with its position to accommodate ODM into Government as opposed to an ODM proposal that wants a split of Cabinet positions and the creation of the post of an executive prime minister.
Lead negotiator, Kofi Annan, left the Serena Hotel in the heat of the stand-off and went to Harambee House mid afternoon for a scheduled meeting with President Kibaki. After President Kibaki’s meeting with Annan, State House issued a statement which avoided the mention of ‘power-sharing’ but which only said the President had assured Annan that he was ready to “share responsibilities” with ODM.

The President, however, cautioned that any political solution that will be proposed must be in tandem with the current Kenyan Constitution,” part of the PPS statement read.

Conclusion
It seems Kibaki is up in arms with manipulation as he did post-2002 elections when he refused to honour NARC’s memorandum of understanding. Whenever I listen to him speak about “ any deal must be worked out within the current Constitution, and any other arrangement would have to follow later through constitutional reforms” my hackles rise because there will never be constitutional reforms under Kibaki. To swallow this again from him would be like getting kicked in the face once an turning the other side for another kick while still lying on the ground.

I echo Rice’s statement that power-sharing cannot be an illusion, it must be real.

A “German Coalition” to resolve the Kenyan crises?

Monday, 18. February 2008 von Jannek

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.

 

Gernod 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.

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