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US risk firm warns of Uhuru, Ruto election crisis

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY NZAU MUSAU

A US-based risk advisory firm warns Kenya faced being isolated if the country elected ICC suspects Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in the March 4 elections.

The risk advisory firm—DaMina— whose members included former senior government and business leaders say the incoming US Secretary of State John Kerry was likely to renew pressure to have the Kenya cases accelerated so as to send a strong signal to Kenyan voters of the risks the country faced if the two were elected.

 Members of the risk advisory include former British MP and chief Treasury secretary in the Tony Blair government, Lord Paul Boateng, a former president of the African Development bank, Babacar Ndiaye and former Prime Minister of Guinea Kabine Komara.

 “With both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates possible war criminals, Kenya will be thrown into a major political, legal, diplomatic, constitutional and crisis if Kenyatta and Ruto win, only to be hounded by the ICC and isolated by the West,” the group's report on “2013 Africa periscope” says.

 The group warns that “heavy handed interference by the US” on the candidature of the two may also spur patriotic anti-colonial feelings in the electorate. If this happens, Uhuru and Ruto will be elected in an assertion of national sovereignty.

 Ruto has already proclaimed that the election will be a referendum on ICC. He has also said a massive win by Jubilee will be a vindication of their innocence to the ICC.

 The report echoes sentiments which have been expressed by former UN chief Kofi Annan who is the chairman of the Eminent African Persons Panel, several columnists and civil society groups who have warned that the country would risk international condemnation if the pair were elected.

Uhuru and Ruto are the flag bearers of the Jubilee coalition after their candidacy was endorsed during a delegates convention held last month.

 In its forecast, the risk advisory group says Kenya's elections were the most important out of the five elections scheduled to be held in Africa this year.

Other countries scheduled to hold elections are Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Madagascar and a possible re-run in Ghana. Apart from presidential elections, Kenyans will be voting for governors and senators to meet the requirements of the new constitution which seeks to establish a devolved government.

The group warns that just like in 2007 elections, ethnic politics, money and generational arguments will be to be the deciding factors.

 The group has also analyzed the two main coalitions- Cord and Jubilee. They suggest that Jubilee stood a better chance of winning the presidency if it had retained UDF's Musalia Mudavadi as its presidential candidate in line with the secret pact which has since been dishonored.

 “If the three—Uhuru, Ruto, Mudavadi—had maintained the coalition, this would have been the obvious winning team. Mudavadi’s absence weakens the Jubilee coalition.

He may run as a third party spoiler or eventually rejoin Jubilee as he is unlikely to rejoin his estranged former allies in Cord. Whichever group Mudavadi joins will have the upper hand,” the group says.

 On Cord, the group singles out the role of Ford Kenya's Moses Wetangula and notes that he does does not sway as much influence amongst the Luhyia community as Mudavadi. Because of this, the group concludes that the Luhya vote will be split, with Mudavadi carrying the lion share.

 “Voters who lie outside— Mt Kenya, Nyanza, Eastern, and Rift Valley— the strongholds of these two coalitions, will determine who the next president will be. The total of this swing votes is approximately 5million,” the group estimates.

 It says close elections are always plagued by violence. However, any such violence is likely to be “very sparse” as Kibaki will not be running and therefore state machinery will not be used to sway the election.

 On a more positive note however, the group says Kenya's financial, consumer and retail companies may benefit from a stabilizing American presence in South Sudan. The group says under Kerry, the US will increase attention to Juba.

 It projects that the US will begin to drop Rwanda from its list of 'close buddies' in the new year. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has in recent months come under withering criticism for supposedly financing the M23 ethnic Tutsi militia in eastern Congo DRC.

 In South Africa, the group says a ray of hope for investors may have emerged with the recent ANC party conference. It cites the dropping of mine nationalization agenda and the election of a pro-business candidate Cyril Ramaphosa as the party’s deputy president (and next deputy president of the country) as big wins for businesses.

 In its website, the group describes itself as a 'pre-eminent independent frontier markets risk advisory, research and consulting firm' with a special focus is on African capital and commodities markets.

 DaMina provides exclusive, highly-tailored, 360-degree and around-the-clock regulatory and political risk advisory and consulting services to global corporations and investment firms in China, India, Northern Europe and Latin America. Some of its clients include large sovereign funds and global multinational companies seekin entry into African market. The group is registered as a limited liability partnership in the UK, US and Ghana.