Saturday, December 9, 2017

The United States has become a renegade on democratic tenets in the developing World

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
Where did the Supreme Court nullify the United States when Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bungled the August 8th general election that was later?
How come the US failed to raise a finger when an ICT Manager in the IEBC was murdered with clear intentions to rig the election less than a week to the August election?
The Donald Trump administration has failed to officially condemn President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government for unleashing the police who have so far killed over 200 peaceful demonstrators in the 4 months post-election fiasco.
Trump’s administration needs to review the role of ambassador Robert Godec in Nairobi.
It’s disturbing that Mr. Godec may not be providing a true picture to Washington especially on the police brutality meted towards innocent Kenyans where as young as 6 months old kids have been killed in cold blood.
Active involvement of diplomats to enhance social justice in Kenya is not something new. During the clamor for multiparty democracy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the late US ambassador to Kenya Smith Hempstone, a Republican teamed up with other European ambassadors like Germany’s Bernd Mutzelburg, members of the civil society and the Church to pressurize retired President Daniel Moi to restore multi-party politics in 1991.
It can be pointed out that the US ambassador in Nairobi and his European counterparts have stayed aloof in the Kenyan crisis even when basic democratic tenets like the right to life are under threat. Which begs this question: Has Western powers abandoned the developing world in the pursuit of social justice and democracy?
If Western ambassadors through their governments actively participated to help Kenya realize political pluralism more than 2 decades ago, why are they not ready carry the same torch now when the stakes are even higher?
It’s extremely disturbing that even the US which is viewed globally as the epitome of democracy and respect for human rights is siding with the current Kenyan regime which is has violated many rights by the citizens.
The US is silent on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who has stifled democracy, destroyed all manner of dissent by detaining dissenters, gagged the country’s media and is now on the path to change the constitution to become a life President.
Uganda’s next-door neighbors-Rwanda and Burundi are not sound democratically. President Paul Kagame who brought Rwanda from its knees after the 1994 genocide has undergone a complete metamorphosis. He has chopped the country’s constitution and he is now a life President.
It’s high time the US coiled its tail on other countries affairs because; giving a cold shoulder on ELECTION FRAUD in Kenya makes the global super power look as an aggressor to North Korea!
Examples of African dictatorships where the US has turned a blind eye are many. In East Africa, it’s only Tanzania that has a sound democratic record.
What has irked many Kenyans, who are gearing for self-determination through the political opposition The National Super Alliance (NASA) under the perceived winner of the August election Raila Odinga, is the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto.
Instead of Mr. Yamamoto addressing Kenya’s political imbroglio to the government of President Uhuru, he read a riot act to opposition leaders; urging them to abandon the quest for self-determination. The opposition is gearing to fight for electoral justice, equality and inclusion and eventually inaugurate opposition leader Raila Odinga on December 12thas president.
Kenyans appreciate the stand taken by former US ambassador Michael Ranneberger who initially refused to accept President Mwai Kibaki’s victory in the 2007 rigged election. It was however after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew to Nairobi to press Kibaki, to accept compromise based on power sharing with Raila, to break the political impasse.
Why is the US always a Johnny-come-lately on African crises even when human life is under threat?  The Clinton administration procrastinated during the Rwandan crisis where genocide was committed; culminating to the slaying of almost a million people in 1994.
Is history repeating itself that 10 years down the road, under President Trump, who is also a Republican, a diplomat from Washington is sent to Kenya negotiate over a political stalemate?
The US has been a major actor in global democracy, justice and the rule of law and should get it right for Kenyans…Circumstances have changed! What the global superpower advocated in 2007 during the post-election violence to unravel the political impasse cannot work 10 years later.
Kenyan citizens expected Western powers beginning with the US to pile more pressure on the current government of President Kenyatta to cede ground; come to the negotiation table and discuss electoral justice.
The holding democratic elections are the surest remedy for Kenya and the same should be through a multipartite agreement between the NASA coalition, the ruling Jubilee coalition and other relevant stakeholders.
Kenya’s political opposition raised serious concerns on lack of preparedness by the (IEBC) and the Kenyan government to offer free and fair election before the US and some European countries before the August 8th. The same happened after the Supreme Court annulled September 1st Presidential election when opposition leader Raila Odinga called for dialogue to achieve electoral justice.
Its vividly remembered that ambassador Godec consistently sided with the electoral body and the Kenyan government instead of taking a neutral path to bring the government and the opposition to discuss electoral justice.
The desire of Kenyans is free and fair elections. Performing quick fixes like what Secretary Yamamoto is trying to do will not offer a lasting solution. In 2007, Kenyan was in the muddle of a rigged election. The country was almost brought to its knees through ethnic killings, displacement of persons and destruction of property.
A rigged election also happened again in 2013 and now the country is in the same mess five years down the road. Perennial election malpractices dating back to the reign of retired President Moi, who ruled Kenya with an iron fist for 24 up to 2002 if not check will completely dwarf Kenya’s democratic grown as well as derailing respect for the rule of law.
This time round, Kenyans are determined to get it right. They want nothing less that free, fair, credible and verifiable election. The US as a key partner for democracy can do better than piecemeal measures that leave old wounds intact.
Kenya is at the tipping point and if the US lets the status quo stand, it will be a disaster for not only Kenya, but also the East African region and US.

Nyaringo is a social Justice contributor and President of Kenya Patriotic Movement, a Kenya diaspora lobby group  
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