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November 22, 2018

[Statement]: US has consistently mishandled Kenya crisis - Raila

Opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance coalition speaks during an interview with Reuters in Nairobi, November 7, 2017. /REUTERS
Opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance coalition speaks during an interview with Reuters in Nairobi, November 7, 2017. /REUTERS

Kenyans have been taken aback by the comments that have emerged from the US embassy during the visit of the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Amb Donald Yamamoto.

The most astonishing of these was the call for NASA to drop to its plans for a swearing in of Mr Raila Odinga on December 12. Let us for a moment overlook the fact that this call constitutes clear interference in Kenya’s internal affairs.

Read: Drop swearing-in bid, go for talks with Uhuru, US tells Raila

Also read: Raila swearing-in is treason punishable by death - Githu Muigai

The US recognises that our country has been deeply polarised and divided since the rigged and subsequently annulled August election.

To help overcome these dangerous divisions, our friends and partners should begin by looking at what caused the polarisation and what is needed to rectify them. But instead of focusing on those causes and possible solutions, the US has decided that an event that has yet to take place, the “inauguration”, is the imminent danger Kenya faces.

Not only that: the US has decided that such a swearing-in is unconstitutional, even though it has no idea what the event actually entails.

Police have in recent weeks brutally attacked NASA supporters while they are assembling peacefully, so this US stand on the swearing in will have further emboldened the regime to once again use on Tuesday the murderous tactics that have been on display recently.

Given the fraught moment, the US statement should have been aimed at building bridges between Kenyans and their two main parties, rather than taking partisan positions which disrespected and further angered more than half our population.

The Uhuru Kenyatta regime is not explicitly criticised in the statement for any of the major crimes that have been committed. The subversion of both elections is not even mentioned.

Neither are the attacks and the threats by Uhuru Kenyatta against the Supreme Court justices, which led to the Court not holding a pivotal hearing on the legality of the October 26 election. We are supposed to believe that there many problems in the country, but somehow the elections were conducted properly.

The worst of the many crimes that the US statement did not touch on was the killing of scores of innocent, unarmed NASA supporters in a reign of terror designed to intimidate NASA-leaning communities.

Basically, throughout this very critical period in which the future of Kenya was being decided, the regime decided to outlaw peaceful assembly in order to rig all outcomes in its favour, and the international community averted its gaze.

No condemnation despite expectation

The US did not condemn the killings, nor demand that they cease. Kenyans expected much more of a nation which put human rights on the world map, and helped other countries set up programmes to promote these rights. Somehow this did not matter this time around in Kenya.

Major powers seek to advance their self-interests globally and other nations understand that. The US and Kenya have had a good relationship in that context, with differences arising now and then, as is inevitable.

Related: 'Constitution my foot': Raila asks US to stop interfering with Kenya's affairs

But in this recent period, we have seen the US take a very short-sighted as well as opportunistic approach which exclusively focuses on security and business interests. Its seemingly unaware that it is the unpopular and isolated Jubilee government which has brought Kenya to this grave moment, and threatens not only this country’s future but the future of others in the region and globally.

The US pro-Jubilee bias was clear in the run up to the August election, when western envoys repeatedly ignored the evidence NASA presented of rigging plans underway at the IEBC.

The envoys instead urged NASA to respect independent institutions like the IEBC, regardless of the fact that it was drowning in fraud and deceit. The brutal torture and killing of IEBC IT chief Chris Msando a week before the election did not elicit US condemnation.

When the Supreme Court annulled the August election for “irregularities and illegalities” and the whole web of deceit that marked IEBC actions was exposed, the US-led envoys’ statement again urged Kenyans to work “had-in-glove” with the IEBC to prepare for the October 26 election. Hard as it might be to believe, the need to thoroughly clean up the IEBC before the next election was not even mentioned.

This pro-Jubilee electoral trend was so strong that even after IEBC chairman Wafula Wabukati asserted that he could not guarantee a free and fair election on October 26, a new “assessment” by Mr Chebukati four days later saw the US announce that the IEBC could hold a fair election.

The legality of whether the October 26 election could free and fair was to be determined by the Supreme Court, but that hearing never materialised after the Court could not raise a quorum. Even that did not stir alarm in our partners,

In any event, the outcome that counted was the one on August 8. Even if one doesn’t accept that the amount of proven fraud meant that Raila Odinga had won that election, then the refusal by the IEBC to heed the Supreme Court order to open the server should settle the matter.

Interestingly, the US statement has an extensive list of issues that Kenya needs to urgently address. But holding free and fair elections is not among them.

It is not too late for the US to reassess its approach. Uhuru might have “legality” as many dictators and military rulers do. But he has little legitimacy and hence will continue to rule using unlawful force, further undermining what until a few years ago has been a stable partnership for global interests.

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