Who Cares If Kenya Bleeds To Death?

War is young men dying and old men talkingOdysseus, the King of Ithaca (in a film based on Homer’s epic poem, Iliad)

Two days ago (Monday, February 4, 2008), The Standard, a Nairobi-based national newspaper published on its front page the heart-rending picture of the Kenyan Minister of Special Programmes, Dr. (Mrs.) Naomi Shabaan, carrying a two-day old baby, John Nduati, who was born at one of the very “inhospitable and squalid camps” where hapless Kenyans, brutally displaced by the insane political crises that have engulfed their country for more than a month now, have sought refuge.

This tender child never asked to be born at this time. He neither knows President Mwai Kibaki nor Mr. Raila Odinga, whose bitter quarrel over the disputed December 27 polls have continued to exact enormous toll on their once beautiful and peaceful country. Hopefully, someone would preserve a copy of last Monday’s The Standard and show it to this hapless boy when he grows up. I doubt if he will forgive all those who had plunged his nation into such horrible crises and caused him to be born in such an inhuman condition that brings tears to the eyes of even the most hard-hearted.

At least, more than 800 persons (some reports put the figure at 1000) have so far lost their lives in the Kenyan crises, while 350,000 others have become refugees in their own country. Although living in very poor sanitary conditions in over-crowded camps, it is understandable that most of the displaced families have refused to heed the call of the MPs to return to their homes. By Sunday morning, two days after the call by the over-fed and duly protected MPs, many of the people camping at police stations in Nyeri and the Central Police Station were yet to move an inch. Indeed, they have every reason to doubt every assurance that adequate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure their safety, or that peace was returning to Kenya.

Indeed, while the MPs were issuing their assurances, some Kenyans were still being massacred. “At the Borabu-Sotik-Bureti border, 10 people were reportedly killed, bringing to 17 the number of those who have lost their lives in the past three days. Also burnt alongside several dozen houses were three schools — Koiyet Primary and St Ann Academy on the Sotik side of the border and Ribaita Primary School in Borabu,” The Standard reported on Monday.

It should be clear that President Kibaki is far from being battle-weary and appears bent on continuing to stoke the fire presently devastating in his country. In fact, there are fears now that the Kenyan President may snub the resolutions of the high-powered Negotiation Team led by former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Anan, whose mediation talks have this week entered key areas that are central to the restoration of peace in Kenya.

Following Kibaki’s remarks at the recent African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa that the crises in his country could only be resolved locally through the Kenyan courts, the leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Mr. Raila Odinga, has accused him of planning to sabotage the talks whose outcome the world eagerly awaits. “He should come forward and renounce the statement. He should not utter things that could worsen the current problems,” last Saturday’s Daily Nation (Nairobi) quotes Odinga as saying.

The Kenyan crises had erupted when Kibaki, on noticing that his party’s dismal performance in the parliamentary elections could only lead to his loss of the Presidency allegedly manipulated the figures, mainly in his Kikuyi mainland, to ensure that he emerged “winner” of the presidential contest. Mr. Odinga is insisting that since his party, the ODM, had won 99 parliamentary and 998 civic seats as opposed to 43 and 322 won by Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU), there was no doubt that the ODM won the elections. In fact, twenty-three serving Cabinet ministers were floored in the legislative election by candidates of the ODM.

It is reassuring that Mr. Odinga is asking his supporters to refrain from acts of violence and pledging not to withdraw from the Anan-led talks. He is also ready for fresh elections, an option Kibaki is not very comfortable with. Pressure must, therefore, be mounted on Kibaki by the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and his Western friends, to respect the wishes of the people and allow peace to reign and the carnage presently ruining his country to stop. The seeming helplessness of the AU in the face of Kibaki’s crude determination to destroy Kenya with himself only reconfirms the hollowness of the so-called Peer Review Mechanism, once parroted by such unrepentant renegades like Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni. Indeed, Museveni is today a key factor in the continued degeneration of the Kenyan crises.

Just last Friday, two Ugandan newspapers, Daily Monitor and Weekly Observer, published an open letter to President Museveni by Ugandan opposition leaders signed by Mr. Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, a respected opposition leader in Uganda. The letter drew Museveni’s attention to overwhelming media reports about Uganda’s overt involvement in the Kenyan crises to which “no categorical response” has come from Museveni.

“It is absolutely important and imperative that your Excellency distance yourself and the people of Uganda from the unfortunate events taking place in Kenya. Otherwise the people of Kenya and indeed of Uganda will hold you personally accountable for the disintegration of our sister neighbour and the destruction of lives and property, which [have] so far claimed more than 800 innocent Kenyans,” the letter said.

Earlier at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Museveni had told the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, that what was required in Kenya was a Commission of Enquiry (to be set up by Kibaki?) to probe the elections and proffer solutions. That was his way of rejecting the Anan-led talks currently holding in Nairobi, and assisting Kibaki to consolidate his illegitimate regime. Also, Museveni is yet to deny media reports that Kibaki is now being guarded by his country’s elite force, the Ugandan Presidential Guard of Brigade, as the embattled Kenyan President, apparently becoming distrustful of his own security outfit is reducing its presence around him. Given these flagrant signs of Uganda’s meddling in the Kenyan crises, the Ugandan opposition is asking Museveni to retrace his evil steps and support efforts by decent and progressive minds to find lasting peace in Kenya.

“Let us align ourselves with Kenyans and not with either of the protagonists. Let us join them in finding a solution, which … should be advocating for fresh elections supervised by AU and UN. Let us prevail on Mr Kibaki to resign and leave room for a government of national unity which neither he nor Mr Raila Odinga should head, and whose main task shall be to prepare for fresh elections within a period not exceeding one year,” they told him in their open letter.

With Museveni solidly behind him, Kibaki is also reaching out to the West. On Sunday night, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, left Nairobi on a four-day tour of the United Kingdom and United States. In London, he would brief the House of Commons and “friends of Kenya” on the “true position” of things at home. He is also scheduled to meet with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon and US Congressmen and Senators.

Against the backdrop of threats by both the US and UK to review developmental support to Kenya if nothing concrete was done to urgently halt the crises, the vice-president would deploy all his persuasive powers to dissuade them from withdrawing their assistance despite Kibaki’s intransigence and determination to supervise the ruination of Kenya. It is unfortunate that instead committing himself to the on-going peace talks at home, Kibaki would rather waste scarce resources on shuttle diplomacy, to win support for his illegitimate regime, with the blood of nearly 1000 Kenyans dripping from his cruel palms.

He needs to urgently recall the wise counsel offered him by the London Times in its editorial of January 3, 2008, and face the raw truth that there is just no way the manipulated elections in Kenya can “give him mandate to continue as President.” He can only hang on there at the expense of more lives and further destruction of Kenya.

Indeed, Kenya is bleeding profusely today, but who cares? Certainly, not Kibaki who is currently blinded by his naked lust for power to read the handwriting on the wall. Instead of coming to terms with the harsh reality staring him on the face, he thinks the press are the cause of his problem. The obnoxious order by Government Spokesperson, Dr Alfred N. Mutau, stopping all live broadcasts in Kenya is being challenged in court by the KTN, one of the leading networks in Kenya. But, unfortunately, the case has been effectively paralysed with a very ridiculous adjournment, obviously inspired by Kibaki. Dr. Mutua’s explanation that “by requesting media houses not to air live press conferences and call-ins into radio shows” Government is intending to “empower editors to be in control of the information relayed by their media houses,” has failed to impress anyone. No doubt, Kibaki is simply rattled by the force of public opinion, which he is not prepared to respect.

One African leader deeply pained and embarrassed by all this mess is Mr. Paul Kageme, the Rwandan President. During the 14th Heroes Day Celebrations in his country’s Southern Province on February 1, he could not hide his disgust and disappointment.

“People do not want to relinquish power peacefully until they are forced out after a spell of destructions and this has affected the development of the continent…They have also ended up in flames. Today one country is in total chaos, then tomorrow another follows suit and the next day violence is reported in another African country … and all these conflicts are fuelled by bad leadership,” last Sunday’s Monitor (Kampala) quotes Kageme as saying.

On Monday, in Kigali, during his monthly press conference, Kageme called for a re-run of the disputed elections in Kenya. “”I want to make my position clear on this matter. There are three scenarios of ending this situation and one of them is a re-run … the violence in Kenya is worsening and human rights violations are increasing. This must stop. Both PNU and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) should go back to elections all together,” Tuesday’s Daily Monitor quotes him as saying.

Well, Kagame has spoken, but who will listen to him? How other bold and sincere enough to speak forthright and sincerely in the Kenyan crises? Is Kibaki not still hanging there because he is yet to feel any pinch of condemnation and isolation from other African leaders? Who really cares if Kenya is bleeding to death?

Well, it is reassuring that Mr. Ki-Moon who was in Nairobi the other day has thrown his weight behind the Anan-led Mediating Team. The UN must insist that Kibaki abide by the outcome of the talks.

Also, troublemakers like Museveni and others giving more covert support to creatures like Kibaki must not be allowed to escape justice once they leave office. They must be made to tread the inglorious path the likes of Charles Taylor have since trod, to face a duly empowered UN Human Rights Court for their clear and unambiguous crimes against humanity.

On no account should Kibaki be allowed to drag Kenya down with him. Right now, he must have moved his children and quarrelsome wife, Lucy, to safety, while the children others, goaded by the grand illusion that they are Kibaki’s “supporters,” are mowed down in the prime of their lives.

In short, this whole madness must stop.

Written by
Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
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