November 23rd 2017

Opinion / Commentaries

Salim Lone: Western diplomats out of touch with events in Kenya

Their neutrality makes no sense and can do harm. But even that neutrality is faint, since the statement gives the impression that the envoys would have no problem if the election were held on Thursday, as by asking Raila Odinga to run in the election.

By Salim LoneTuesday, 24 Oct 2017 07:39 EAT

U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec speaking on behalf of the envoys at their press conference in Nairobi yesterday.

The US, UK and other western envoys in their statement today ducked the question of whether the 26th October election should be postponed, despite painting an excruciatingly bleak picture of Kenya’s "deteriorating political environment."

Their neutrality makes no sense and can do harm. But even that neutrality is faint, since the statement gives the impression that the envoys would have no problem if the election were held on Thursday, as by asking Raila Odinga to run in the election.

The envoys mentioned IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati and former member Roselyn Akombe’s “concerns” - but sideline these immediately by saying they require “action.” In three days?

But Akombe has not raised concerns, she had made earthshaking revelations about how totally corrupted IEBC operations are. Chairman Chebukati has said he cannot guarantee that the election will be free and fair. No “action” could possibly be taken on all these issues within a few days of course.

So at the press conference, US Ambassador Robert Godec said that if the electoral commission felt it was not ready for Thursday's poll, it should ask the courts for a delay. Its called passing the buck.

The reality is that except for Uhuru Kenyatta and Jubilee, Kenyan public opinion now overwhelming favours delay. But the envoys have ignored this rising tide of opposition from most sectors of society, including from heads of trade unions like COTU, KUPPET and the University Staff Union, and the Doctors and Nurses unions.

Civil Society virtually en masse had opposed the election date earlier. A few days ago, influential Mt Kenya region leaders such as Martha Karua, William Kabogo, Kabando-wa-Kabando and Kiraitu Murungi pointed to the bruising polarization and urged delay.

Kenyans should not be imperiled by rushing into an ill organized and chaotic election by a corrupted IEBC staff. The Chairman must seek from the Supreme Court a 90 day delay to ensure national healing and to put in mechanisms for a free, fair and credible election

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