Kenya looks in the mirror and sees South Sudan

Kenya’s president Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta expressed regret “…that the crisis in Southern Sudan, which started as a party dispute, had been portrayed as ethnic cleansing by the media, NGOs and others.” Mr. Kenyatta’s red herring came even as Mr. Salva Kiir, president of the troubled country “…called for an end to wanton killings and tribal-based atrocities.” Mr. Kiir’s call for an end to “tribal-based atrocities” belied claims by both Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Kiir that the conflict between the latter and Mr. Machar is “political and not tribal.”
http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Leaders-seek-to-end-Juba-war/-/1056/2126162/-/geyuso/-/index.html
http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000100852&story_title=south-sudan-president-kiir-urges-end-to-tribal-atrocities
During the crisis meeting with the council of ministers of South Sudan at State House, Juba, Mr. Kenyatta, in his capacity as chairman of East African Community and ironically, a crimes-against-humanity suspect as well, accused the yet-to-be exposed “media”, “NGOs” and the nebulous “others” of characterizing the conflict between Salva Kiir and his former vice-president Riek Machar as a political stalement even as observers, aid workers and fleeing refugees reported atrocities including the discovery of mass graves, extrajudicial killings and rapes.
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/in-south-sudan-reports-of-massacres-and-mass-graves/?ref=africa
There is little doubt that the conflict in the continent’s newest nation is between two political rivals Mr. Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic majority and Mr. Machar, who is from the Nuer ethnic group; a group whose population is less than the Dinka’s. But as Kenya has amply demonstrated since independence, the conflict is primarily about power, of which political power is but one component. The crisis was sparked by fighting between Dinka and Nuer soldiers i.e. fighting between two distinct ethnic groups. The fighting between soldiers allied to the two ethnic groups then morphed into allegations of a coup, allegedly orchestrated by the ousted former vice-president Riek Machar, against the government of Salva Kiir. This allegation seemingly cemented the ethnic dimension of the conflict that many African leaders including Mr. Kenyatta were/are desperately trying to downplay if not deny outright. Lost in the blame-game and recriminations are the earlier actions of Mr. Kiir who, in July 2013, dismissed his vice-president Mr. Machar and the entire cabinet and went on to arrest the latter’s predominantly Nuer allies.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/world/africa/south-sudan-crisis.html?_r=0
The reality is that Mr. Kenyatta, as president of Kenya; a country with a past splattered with ethnic clashes is looking at the conflict in South Sudan and uncomfortably sees the country he presides over. The dynamics of the conflict between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar might as well be the dynamics of the conflicts between Jomo Kenyatta and his nemesis Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the many variants of these two venerable figures of Kenya’s socio-political history. As recent as 2012, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta himself had to form the Jubilee Coalition, effectively a “coalition of survival” with fellow crimes-against-humanity suspect and deputy president Mr. William Ruto. The marriage between Mr. Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) party and Mr. Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP) was a coalition that primarily pitted two ethnic groups – Kikuyu and Kalenjin – against a majority of the other ethnic groups in Kenya. And as is the case in South Sudan, distribution of the many permutations of “power” within members of TNA and URP has come under withering verbal attack from within; courtesy of Nandi Hills MP Mr. William Keter. Now as the father of modern war Mr. Karl von Clausewitz said, make that cautioned, war is the continuation of diplomacy/speechifying/policy by other means!
http://www.military-quotes.com/Clausewitz.htm
Before I am called an agitator or something less savory, let me categorically state that efforts at peace and conflict resolution by the delegation from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the council of ministers of South Sudan should be commended and supported: They are indeed timely. Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar should set aside their “personal challenge”…er..make that “personal ambitions” and differences and put the well-being of the people of South Sudan first. Having said that, let me add that few African leaders – past and present – can deal with situations such as the one in South Sudan with the credibility the situations deserve not to mention looking extremely hypocritical like most of them did when trying to claim Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
The cynic in me sees President Kenyatta preaching peace and reconciliation between South Sudan’s Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar while coalitions in his own backyard are clinging on to tenuous and fragile peace imposed on them by relentless pressure from the International Criminal Court! That Mr. Kenyatta has suggested “power-sharing” between Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar as an option is the height of irony given the blistering attack the president’s own supporters launched against the power-sharing arrangement, derisively referred to as the “nusu mkate” arrangement, between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga back in 2008; an option that saved Kenya from further ETHNIC blood-letting even as it landed Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto at The Hague. The curmudgeon in me further argues that Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar survey the regional landscape and see the evolution of Kenya, Uganda, Mali, CAR and the Democratic Republic of Congo and adduce that power indeed comes through the barrel of a gun or through the “tyranny of numbers”; the latter a coalition that effectively blunts efforts to arrest impunity. The two antagonists from South Sudan finally conclude that acquisition of said power enables them to have their turn at the trough of “uhuru” (pun unintended); a calculus unmistakably demonstrated by the father of the person now preaching peace and reconciliation between the warring parties of Africa and the world’s newest nation!
The mirror certainly does not lie.

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