January 20th 2018

Top Stories / National

What is standing on the path of dialogue in Kenya

“The United Nations, the United States and the world helped our neighbours Ethiopia and Sudan successfully achieve self-determination for aggrieved populations which wanted to secede.”

By Salim LoneWednesday, 20 Dec 2017 20:39 EAT

Commentaries about Kenya’s current crisis invariably compare it to the one that followed the deeply flawed 2007 presidential election, but none of the comparisons have looked at the role the two declared presidents played in resolving, or perpetuating, the calamites that rigging produced in each case.  

The shattering 2007 crisis saw a resolution begin to emerge within a month. President Mwai Kibaki, while determinedly denying that that rigging made him president, took steps that indicated he recognized the obvious: there was a genuine contention about the election’s outcome that needed to be dealt with politically.

The result was a Kofi Annan-mediated dialogue between ODM and PNU that led to a political accord which saw extraordinary accomplishments in the next five years, including the new Constitution, and Kenya emerged much stronger that it had ever been as an inclusive nation. Thanks of course to Raila Odinga’s agreeing to sacrifice his own ambition and withdrawing his demand for the presidency he had won.

President Uhuru Kenyatta must act as President Kibaki did, by taking political steps that would give hope for a resolution to the alarming situation that prevails. Its seriousness can be gauged by his Attorney General regularly threatening death by hanging for the immensely popular NASA opposition leader if he was sworn in. Uhuru Kenyatta is imperiling Kenya by trivialising this crisis and pretending that whatever is wrong can be fixed by unleashing threats against leaders, as he himself did again at the Governors’ Council meeting yesterday at the Coast.

He also keeps emphasizing his commitment to preserving the integrity of our institutions, when in fact he led the charge against two fundamental ones, compromising the IEBC comprehensively, and undermining the Supreme Court by abusing and threatening the Justices for having nullified his election. Uhuru lives in a world of his own.

It is important to repeat what Mr Odinga and the other NASA leaders have been highlighting as the only way out of this confrontational environment – a serious dialogue to be initiated between President Kenyatta and NASA leaders on the basis of equality. The dialogue should include all key issues that each side wants, which means electoral justice must be on the agenda. Without that dialogue, Kenya’s politics will remain volatile and explosive, disrupting economic activity and governance for months to come.  

Nearly two thirds of Kenyans do not recognize Uhuru as President, and are determined to not let this stand. They are passionately demanding that Raila be sworn in as President or secession be pursued for our aggrieved populations. Self-determination, including secession, is a cardinal principle of international law enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. The United Nations, the United States and the world helped our neighbours Ethiopia and Sudan successfully achieve self-determination for aggrieved populations which wanted to secede.

No serious person advocates secession blithely. Mr Odinga has repeatedly said this, advocating that the woes of aggrieved populations be heard seriously if that demand is to be averted.

The issue of swearing in is also not about to disappear any time soon. We saw how NASA supporters erupted in anger against a leader they passionately love, when Raila Odinga’s swearing-in on the 12 December was postponed. In his long political career, Raila has never been confronted with such opposition from his supporters. Kenyans are convinced that if they allow the third straight election theft to stand, there will never be another honest election in Kenya again.  

President Kenyatta’s refusal to initiate a serious dialogue is of course abetted by United Sates support, which was evident again at US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Donald Yamamoto’s teleconferenced press encounter yesterday. He praised Mr Odinga’s long history for democratic inclusion and progressive political reforms, and urged a dialogue as well – but one without electoral justice in its agenda! As Mr Odinga said yesterday, we are not beggars seeking crumbs that might fall from the table.  

Most Kenyans are convinced Raila Odinga won the 8 August election not merely because the Supreme Court nullified it. The evidence of wrongdoing was overwhelming. The IEBC also refused to provide the access to its servers that the Supreme Court had ordered, making it clear that the servers showed that it was Mr Odinga who won the election.

As Mr Odinga pointed out yesterday, the Supreme Court annulled Mr Kenyatta’s victory but not the election result. As Mr Odinga said yesterday, the server logs now in NASA’s possession clearly reveal that he won by a over a million votes.  

Uhuru Kenyatta is imperiling Kenya by trivialising this crisis and pretending that whatever is wrong can be fixed by unleashing threats against opposition leaders.

The writer is an Adviser to Raila Odinga.

.





Stay Connected