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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kenya's biggest thief: The Chicago Tribune reports...

Editorial
Kenya's stolen democracy

January 12, 2008

All over the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, looters who had made off with contraband -- beds, sofas, timber -- during the rioting following the country's disputed elections last month were returning the stolen goods to their rightful owners this week.

Why? Fear of a curse that could cost them health, sanity, even their lives.

But the country's biggest thief, President Mwai Kibaki, showed no remorse over stealing the Dec. 27 elections and plunging his country into violence. And the curse, in this case, is on his own people. Because even as his country burns and his fellow citizens fall to the ravages of displacement and death, Kibaki has proven to be concerned with only one thing: holding on to power.

He reaffirmed his priorities on Thursday, as he continued to stonewall mediation efforts by the African Union and the World Bank. And he further depressed hopes of a peaceful settlement to the conflict when, on Thursday, he swore in a new Cabinet packed with his allies. It was an intentionally provocative move. As Salim Lone, spokesman for challenger Raila Odinga, pointed out, "You don't pre-empt negotiations by giving away all the important posts."

Kibaki also has refused to sign an agreement, approved by the World Bank, that calls for an investigation into election chicanery, a transitional government and a potential rerun of the elections.

Ghanian President John Kufuor, head of the African Union, came to Kenya to hold talks between the two sides and help broker a peace. He already has been sent packing. Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, is expected to arrive early next week. It's not clear whether Annan can do any more than Kuofor.

And Kenyans, who recognize that the election of Kibaki was a fraud, show no signs of accepting his rule. More than 600 people have died in post-election rioting. As many as 250,000 have been displaced. Both numbers continue to climb.

A little background: The election leading up to the vote had been hotly contested, but generally seen as fairly fought. Kibaki, the incumbent, has overseen impressive growth in Kenya's economy -- upward of 5 percent annually in recent years. But that growth hasn't been evenly distributed among Kenya's more than 40 different tribes. The benefits have largely been concentrated in the hands of the Kikuyu, the tribe from which Kibaki hails. Though there are many tribes in Kenya, the Kikuyu have dominated the country's politics since Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, led the country to independence from Great Britain in 1963.

The Kenyans who have tired of Kikuyu dominance helped formed the base of coalition support for Odinga, who hails from the smaller, but still prominent, Luo tribe.

Early counts showed Odinga decisively in the lead. But a late reversal in the count handed the election to Kibaki. International election observers say there is evidence of widespread mischief in counting the votes. Kibaki's party, facing an apparent loss, apparently rigged the vote to hang on to the presidency.

The chairman of the Kenyan Election Commission, Samuel Kivuitu, has said he can't be sure Kibaki actually won the election. Great Britain has decided to withhold recognition of the new government. It won't grant recognition, said Foreign Secretary David Miliband, until the Kenyan government "clearly represent[s] a credible expression of the will of the people.

And now the process for achieving peace in Kenya is infinitely harder than simply holding a peaceful election. It will require persuading a president whose back is against the wall to conduct a new election that will in all likelihood give him the boot.

That seems an almost impossible task, given Kibaki's intransigence. But if a new election isn't held, Kenya's long-standing stability could be shattered. And the country could become as unstable as neighbors Somalia and Sudan.



Kibaki needs to follow the lead of his countrymen in Mombasa, and return what he has stolen. Otherwise, his larceny will haunt his country for generations to come.

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Im afraid, you are obviously biased.Kibaki's supporters are no noisemakers, for 'us' still waters run deep and it is a fact that 'barking dogs seldom bite'.

Amkeni Ndugu Zetu! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amkeni Ndugu Zetu! said...

Seeing as I'm more democratic than "us", I'll publish your comment with a cherry on top: I'll even let it stay, so that the whole world can laugh at you.