Category Archives: The Hague

Kusema Na Kutenda – To Say and To Do!

The post-election/campaign tone and messaging of President Uhuru Kenyatta is markedly different than the tone and messaging during the just-concluded presidential campaign, especially immediately after the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed charges against him and his deputy Mr. Ruto. The president’s tone sounds more inclusive and atribal. It sound magnanimous and humble and indicative of someone who is coming to terms with the gravity of the office he now holds. In a recent visit to Mombasa, a region that voted overwhelmingly (76% vs. 20%) for his opponent Raila Odinga, The Daily Nation issue of April 26 quotes Mr. Kenyatta as saying that he wants to be “president of all (Kenyans) and work with all for (the) benefit of this nation.” 1 It is a sound bite that sounds great but is markedly different than the subtle and seemingly negative messages delivered at his campaign rallies where he spoke in a dialect spoken/understood by less than 20% of the very populace he claims he wants to work for! 2.

While it is normal for politicians to “reset” their messaging from the campaign and move towards the moderate center once the elections are over, they (politicians) come across as disingenuous when they go from one extreme end of the spectrum to the other on an issue. In the charged and divided polity that is post-2007 Kenya, an environment he helped create by running the type of campaign that his Jubilee Coalition run, Mr. Kenyatta has his work cut out out for him.

1 – http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Ill-serve-without-discrimination-Uhuru/-/1064/1758884/-/cpou6w/-/index.html
2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F1rneGyRCcw

For starters, Mr. Kenyatta needs to beat the charges of crimes against humanity he is facing at The Hague, not by trying to circumvent the process, but by letting his high-priced and “foreign” legal team go face-to-face with Ms. Bensouda’s team. I want an objective hearing of the available evidence surrounding the post-election violence of 2007 by a judicial body (ICC) that is not prone to the manipulation Kenya’s judiciary is known for. I want the people who were victimized to have their day in court without fearing for their safety before and after the proceedings. If Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto are as innocent as they claim to be, then the evidence will bear that out. I doubt that the ICC/West wants to be embroiled in another Omar Bashir-like situation given the verdict of the Kenyan voters; one that was confirmed by their Supreme Court. However, I hope that they (west) continue to hold Mr. Kenyatta’s feet to the fire until the (ICC) process runs its course fulfillment of the prophesy of the felled Mugumo Tree notwithstanding.

It is unfortunate that the nationalism and jingoism reflected by some comments in cyberspace prevents some Kenyans from facing the fact that the country’s institutions, the judiciary in particular, have not been free from manipulation by the rich, powerful and well-connected. It is that reality that birthed the cry “Don’t be vague, go to The Hague” and gave the country the Ocampo Six; now reduced to the Bensouda Three! And while I feel that the jingoism and tribal chauvinism will reach a crescendo if Mr. Kenyatta (and his deputy Mr. Ruto) is eventually cleared of charges at The Hague, I also believe that clearing his name AT The Hague is THE one sure way of inoculating the first government coming after the carnage of 2007 elections and the country’s supposedly “independent” institutions from charges of excessive manipulation by the hitherto “untouchable” rich and powerful personalities.

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/14/be-a-sage-push-for-the-hague/

Mr. Kenyatta also needs to deal with the internally-displaced persons (IDPs) AND the land issue without the platitudinous and perfunctory “land is a means of production but not something to always fight for. Let us work together in finding a permanent solution to this problem” line from his stump speeches. To quote him: The campaigns are over, it is time to bring the country together. Let me add to that presidential appeal a special plea, a shout-out if you may, on behalf of the IDPs: It has been 5+years already; the IDPs should be re-settled!

https://thetwoninetyonetracker.com/2013/04/11/the-things-he-did-not-say/

With over 500,000 acres of prime and arable land under his family’s name, not to mention a net worth of one half BILLION dollars ($500,000,000 – Kshs. 41Billion), Mr. Kenyatta can transform said wealth into an asset, no pan intended! With most Kenyans accepting the evidence and coming to terms with the fact that the president’s father Kenyatta Pere was the “land-grabber-in-chief,” can you imagine if the president’s mother and Jomo’s 4th wife, Mama Ngina, had taken the opportunity to reach out to the internally-displaced persons she met during this photo-op by offering to re-settle them on a section of the half-a-million acres of land her late husband “acquired” instead of literally running away from the question?

The glow and honeymoon over Mr. Kenyatta’s election is fast-coming to an end to be replaced by the Sisyphean’s work of governing a divided polity. As presumptuous as this may sound, I would advise “my brother Uhuru” to dispense with the platitudes and let his actions do the talking:

STOP SEMARING AND START TENDARING!

STOP WITH THE PROCLAMATIONS AND LET YOUR ACTIONS SPEAK!!

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Elections, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, Justice, Kenya, Politics, The Hague

Be a Sage; Push for The Hague!

And all it took was three days after their inauguration on April 9, 2013 for two of the three ICC suspects, through their surrogate deputy UN ambassador Ms. Koki Muli Grignon, to begin a concerted effort to have their trials moved from The Hague to the “the jurisdiction of the nation’s (Kenya’s) judicial institutions” as reported in the article “Newly-appointed envoy leads bid to bring Hague cases back home” that appeared on the April 12 issue of the Daily Nation.

I will remind Ms. Grignon that the sole reason her boss Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy Mr. Ruto are being tried at the comparatively independent and definitely “unbwogable” International Criminal Court (ICC) is because a majority of parliamentarians including the president himself came up with the catchy phrase “Don’t be vague, let’s go to The Hague” in response to efforts by some local politicians who wanted those suspected of fomenting the post-election violence (PEV) in 2007/2008 to be tried in Kenya; a suggestion considered a non-starter by many because Kenya’s judiciary had/has NEVER been free of manipulation by the high and mighty. I am sure Ms. Grignon remembers the cute hook that was all the rage after Justice Philip Waki’s team had completed its investigation of the post-election violence of 2007/2008 and handed its report to President Kibaki in October 2008; the team hand the names of the suspects to former UN Sec-Gen Ghanaian Dr. Kofi Annan. That the current president and his deputy ended up at The Hague instead of the Supreme Court of Kenya is no one’s fault other than that of the Kibaki government; the very government Mr. Kenyatta was a member of as a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance! I will take it a step further and argue that the “axis of impunity” that Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta saluted and paid tribute to during Tuesday’s inauguration – Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki – set in motion then entrenched the system of governance that weakened the supposedly independent institutions including the judiciary making it very easy for those who were calling for the PEV suspects to be tried at The Hague to carry the day.

Ms. Grignon is either naïve or believes that the majority of Kenyans who initially sought to have the crimes against humanity cases brought before the ICC are not cognizant of how prone to manipulation Kenya’s supposedly “independent” institutions are! On the other hand, the just–concluded election of two of the three principals facing those very charges may have given said individuals – Uhuru and Ruto – and their surrogate Ms. Koki Grignon the impetus, indeed the gumption or like they say stateside, “huevos” or chutzpah to redouble the efforts to bring the proceedings in front of a judiciary they have more sway over.

I strongly urge Ms. Bensouda and the ICC, indeed the UN Security Council to reject any attempts by the Kenyatta administration to bring adjudication of the PEV charges to the still-suspect Kenyan judiciary and I say this with all due respect to CJ Mutunga and his band of merry men and women. I do not put it past the richest man in the country indeed one of the richest in Africa, Mr. Kenyatta, to use his family’s considerable wealth to buy the acquiescence of the Kenyan Supreme Court ergo his outright freedom or considerable reduction in repercussions steming from the charges. I am not sure who said this but “every man and woman has a price.” With a net worth of close to half a billion dollars or approximately kshs. 41,000,000,000 (forty-one BILLION shillings at the current exchange rate of $1 = kshs. 82/=), no one should doubt the willingness of Mr. Kenyatta and his family to use that formidable wealth to fight, tooth and nail, the ICC.

We have already seen the ICC lose some witnesses who have either recanted their testimony or flatly refused to testify. Some of the recantations happened before the two suspects were elected to the presidency and vice-presidency respectively. Kenyans and their Supreme Court elected and finally arbitrated the duo into office with the April 9th inauguration. I only expect the pressure on the remaining witnesses to intensify as July 9, the day the trials are scheduled to begin, draws nearer. Jonah Anguka’s book Absolute Power: The Ouko Murder Mystery details the brutal 1990 murder of Kenya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. In a chapter titled “Convenient Deaths,” (pgs. 219-229), the author writes that following Dr. Ouko’s death, so many material witnesses and people connected to the case died in a manner and at rate that Kenyans were left wondering whether the deaths were by happenstance or “deliberate” targeted killings.(pg. 219) Mr. Anguka adds that the deaths could have been convenient for anyone bent on covering their involvement in the minister’s murder. He then suggests that the deaths of these people may also have been used to instill fear in the minds of potential witnesses. For the record, I counted a total of fourteen (14) people connected to Dr. Ouko’s death who either died or went missing before being questioned by the authorities or shortly thereafter.

Another book – The Risks of Knowledge – co-written by David William Cohen and E. S. Atieno Odhiambo describes the investigation into the death of Mr. Ouko. No one can read Chapter 3 titled “Ouko’s Pain” (pge. 73-89) and not feel how terrified the Foreign Minister was about his personal safety after his return from a visit to the United States as a member of a delegation headed by then-president Moi. Mr. Ouko is described as pleading with Mr. Hezekiah Oyugi, the Permanent Secretary in-charge of internal security in the Office of the President to talk with President Moi and intercede “with the powers on his behalf.” (pge. 77) to which the late PS offers the incredulously callous response: “If you have collided with Nyayo (Moi), shauri yako (tough luck). I give you only two days!” It is a chilling and disturbing read, indeed a sad and painful imploration of a man who knows he is about to die; which indeed did happen shortly after the pleas fell on deaf ears. It also captures the ruthlessness of (our) leaders, including those who profess their religiosity at every opportunity. In a classic tale of “what goes around comes around,” Mr. Oyugi himself later died under extremely mysterious and suspicious circumstances; one of the fourteen people connected with Ouko’s death who either died or disappeared before they could be questioned on the matter.

I have to admit that the Ouko assassination remains very personal for me: He was from Nyahera, Kisumu – the same area as my mother. Uncle Bob as we called him also taught my mom at Ogada Intermediate Primary School, also in Nyahera. Robert’s mother and my maternal grandmother were both from Kano-Kolwa and were very close friends. The point of the fore-going digression on to the death of Robert Ouko is to illustrate the malleability of the Kenyan judicial system the new Constitution notwithstanding. The sad fact is that I could have chosen any one of several national tragedies the country has experienced in the last generation – the assassinations of Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, JM Kariuki or the multi-billion shillings scandals such as Goldenberg, Anglo-Leasing, Sololo, Grand Regency – to illustrate the incompetence of its judiciary. If the PEV trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy are brought under the jurisdiction of Kenya’s judicial institutions, it is not inconceivable that the two suspects or those around them may choose to play fast and loose and eventually hardball with the local institutions, not to mention the persons tasked with “investigating” the charges currently sitting on Ms. Fatou Bensouda’s docket at the ICC.

Kenyans seem to have a very short and selective memory of events that should be hard-coded in the country’s collective memory. The significant emotional memory of the brutal murder of the country’s former Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Robert Ouko and the ensuing joke of an investigation should still be seared in the consciousness and psyche of the country. Mr. Anguka quotes the late Justice Fidahussein Abdullah, a judge on the Ouko Commission who also died in the midst of the “investigations” as saying “(Kenya) is a country where guilty go scot-free, but the innocent (are) incarcerated, where Goldenbergs and Sololo flaunt their wealth and live lavishly but children of the streets arm themselves with faeces to beg, where inciters of violence are condoned but preachers of peace are condemned…Let us stop this rot..now or tomorrow it will be too late.” (pge. 227)

Both Mr. Anguka and the late Justice Abdullah contend that the rich and powerful in Kenya act with impunity that is near-total because they have the money and the connection: Mr. Kenyatta’s mentor is none other than former President Moi, originator of the “Uhuru Project” and the very person Dr. Ouko was begging Mr. Hezekiah Oyugi to have intercede on his behalf.

If the history of Kenya is anything to go by re: dealing with high-profile politically charged legal matters, Ms. Grignon, the country, indeed all who want justice for the victims of the post-election violence should not be naive, they should be sagacious and stay with The Hague – the one entity along with the seemingly indefatigable Ms. Bensouda, that may just be beyond manipulation, at least by Kenya’s rich and powerful.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Democracy, Elections, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, International Criminal Court - ICC, International Relations/Global Issues, Justice, Kenya, Politics, The Hague

The things he did NOT say

In a three thousand two hundred and forty-four worded (3,244) inauguration speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta devoted only one hundred and seventeen (117) to the issue of land. And of the 117 words addressing the land issue, one can argue that just forty-two – approximately 1.3% of the total number of words in the speech – dealt with the issue from the perspective that has been at the heart of disputes between the various communities in the country. The president said this:

My government will strive to work with all actors to ensure that the issue of land will never again be a contentious or a divisive subject but rather that land will be seen as what it truly is, a factor of production.”

Nowhere in the speech did the president touch on nor propose any solutions to the plight of the internally-displaced people (IDPs). Nowhere in the speech that has been praised and panned alike did Mr. Kenyatta talk about the impact of corruption or the many other isms that have and continue to sap the nation of its will and drive to excel.

What I heard from the in-coming president were lofty platitudinous themes and lines. While these lofty and grandiose alliterations are to be expected in an inauguration speech, that they seemingly came at the expense of what in my opinion were more pressing issues – addressing the issue of land ownership with the seriousness it deserves and not in passing, the still-unresolved suffering of thousands of Kenyans who were uprooted from their homes by the post-election violence of 2007 and the widespread and rampant (official) corruption – is alarming and portends the (misplaced) priorities of the in-coming administration.

I understand that there is a time and place for everything. I also realize that one should never miss an opportunity to make an impact. That the person being inaugurated as president was also the son of the country’s first president added to the momentous nature of the occasion. Additionally, the inauguration of Kenya’s 4th President in the wake of the colossal failure of the election and “inauguration” of 2007 was, in my opinion, an occasion tailor-made for making an impact; illustrating the stark contrast between the transition of power now and then; not to mention that the person being inaugurated was one of three persons accused, along with his deputy, of funding and instigating the crimes against humanity after the same failed elections of 2007! The fore-going three reasons set the stage for Mr. Kenyatta to use the occasion to convey to the country that his administration was serious about the country’s long term progress and stability.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration speech should have addressed the tri-headed monsters of land ownership, resettlement of the IDPs and the rampant (official) corruption.

It did not.

Maybe the fact that the three people most responsible for creating, perpetuating and exacerbating the culture of land-grabbing, corruption, nepotism and tribalism were sitting right behind President Kenyatta on the VIP dais dissuaded him from pointedly addressing them.

  • The inauguree and in-coming president, Kenyatta Fils was representing his father Kenyatta Pere, who as Kenya’s founding father has been lionized and immortalized in the annals of the country’s history. I would add to this near-deification of the country’s first president an asterisk and the qualifier that Kenyatta Pere single-handedly created the country’s land problems, not to mention its tribal divisions and the culture of patronage shortly after it gained independence from the British. In a cruel twist of irony reflected in a narrative germinated by the principals of the victorious Jubilee Coalition during the run-up to the just-concluded elections, Kenyatta Son is facing judgment by the same “foreigners” who imprisoned Kenyatta Father in Kapenguria during Kenya’s fight for independence! The more things change, the more they stay the same!
  • Mr. Moi – need I say more?
  • Mr. Kibaki came into the presidency in 2002 with as much goodwill and support as any president of a diverse country would want. Both the goodwill and support was broad and deep. The country was unified AGAINST the one person most Kenyans blamed for the downturn in its economy, social cohesiveness and international standings – Daniel Arap Moi. Fast forward five years later to 2007 and like they say, the rest is history. No amount of revisionism can change the fact that Mr. Kibaki’s “re-election” in 2007 and the surreptitious “swearing-in” under cover of dark amidst wide-spread charges of ballot-stuffing and an assortment of shenanigans combined to convulse Kenya into Rwanda Part Deux.

Like I said in previous posts, I am willing to cut Mr. Kenyatta some slack as he steadies himself into the presidency; a combined Herculean and Sisyphean task if ever there was one. On the other hand, I would be remiss if I failed to listen to and analyze his inauguration speech without pointing out the blatant and glaring omissions i.e. what the in-coming president did not say.

It is my opinion that what Mr. Kenyatta did not say in his inauguration speech does not augur well for his ability, indeed willingness to address and give the issues of land ownership, re-settlement of the IDPs and official corruption the import they deserve.

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Corruption, Elections, Governance - Kenya, IDPs, Justice, Kenya, Politics, The Hague, Tribalism

Where is the outrage over “their” hypocrisy?

Hypocrisy – hy•poc•ri•sy: The state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have; from the Greek word ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means “jealous”, “play-acting”, “acting out”, “coward” or “dissembling”. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy – hy•poc•ri•sy: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially: the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocrisy

From afar, I find the hand-wringing by Kenyans over the hypocrisy of the US position that it “cannot ignore ICC indictment” amusing to say the least. The ululation virtually devolves into self-flagellation in the blogosphere! I have lived in the US for over thirty years, seventeen of them in the famed Silicon Valley and I can say that the time spent stateside has given me the vantage point and experience to speak with some authority on America’s hypocrisy on a host of issues. The American position re: holding to account president-elect and vice-president Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto on the charges of crimes against humanity is hypocritical given its history. And before I get any hate mail from those who think I am an apologist or spy for the US, let me point out as clearly and succinctly as I possibly can that I am neither a spy nor an apologist for America. I am certainly not oblivious to the evil that the US has perpetrated throughout its history – past and present. From slavery to the invasion of Iraq and now the drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, the US has acted with near-absolute impunity that has raised hackles throughout the world, certainly in the affected regions, the Middle East in particular. The shouts of American (and British) hypocrisy are therefore spot on and very valid. However, coming from Kenyans, given the country’s history since independence and as recently as 2012 (violence in Tana River), I would have to say that said cries of hypocrisy are disingenuous.

Commenting on the article in the April,2 issue of the newspaper Daily Nation that prompted this piece; a blogger named KingMenes writes that:

“Americans and the so called West are hypocrites. Kenya and Kenyans have to be careful when dealing with these countries. Wherever the west sticks its finger, there are ruins and sufferings for generations. Think of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Korea. The US is a dishonest nuclear armed superpower that is solely bent on retaining it world domination at any cost. Kenyans have to be careful because even though these guys have been our friends, they have NEVER wished Africans well and they don’t care. When you see them around, always know at the back of your mind that they are PROTECTING THEIR INTERESTS ONLY. They don’t give a damn about our country. If US really believed in ANY justice let alone international justice, they would be signatories to the ICC. What about US paying for slavery and the Western Europe Countries paying for slavery and colonialism. How can the US and the West shout about justice when their countries are built and founded on crimes against humanity like slavery and colonialism?”

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/US-cannot-ignore-ICC-indictment/-/1064/1736826/-/10g43hxz/-/index.html

KingMenes’ comments is one of almost four hundred comments, all invariably complaining about US hypocrisy. I find it interesting that while complaining about US hypocrisy, these same bloggers near-unanimously turn a blind eye or treat with kid gloves the blatant hypocrisy of Kenya’s leaders. As previously mentioned, the complaints of US hypocrisy are not invalid at all. Indeed one can forcefully argue, with ample supporting evidence that the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan wrought death and suffering to hundreds of thousands; human suffering on scale indubitably grander than the suffering perpetrated by Kenya’s leaders and endured by Kenyans. That aside and in keeping with the rather disrespectful, jingoistic and partisan tone struck by Mr. Macharia Gaithao in his hit piece on the out-going Prime Minister titled “As Raila licks his wounds, Kenyans will be watching Uhuru’s next move” that appeared in the April 1 issue of Daily Nation, I say to all those pro-Uhuru/Ruto partisans ululating over America’s insistence on holding to account the president-elect and his VP, quit the whining already!

If those Kenyans screaming about American hypocrisy were to look at their own leaders through the same lenses that they trained on America and her leaders, they would immediately see the hypocrisy of people like Kenyatta Pere and Fils, Moi, Kibaka, Raila, Oyugi, Ruto, Michuki “if-you-rattle-a-snake” etc. The hypocrisy of these revered Kenyan leaders match, point for point, the hypocrisy of the dreaded Americans. From corrupt deals and pilfering of (national) resources to political assassinations, torture, muzzling, threatening and intimidating dissent by using hired thugs, you name it, American leaders have either done it or been accused of doing it and so have Kenyan leaders. Somehow all those Kenyans accusing the US of hypocrisy have forgotten Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya, Ronald Ngala, JM Kariuki, Robert Ouko, Goldenberg, Triton, Anglo-Leasing, the maize scandal, the $120million “typing error or whatever” (the latter being the president-elect’s response when asked about a mysterious amount that appeared on the supplemental budget during his tenure as Minister for Finance – http://www.kenyaforum.net/?p=422). In an upcoming piece tentatively titled Kenya’s GOP – Jubilee Coalition that compares the 2007 presidential campaign run by the Republican candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin to the one run by Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto in 2012/2013, I offer the following perspective specific to the crimes against humanity facing Messer’s Kenyatta and Ruto:

“Unfortunately for Kenya’s Republican Party, Jubilee’s leading candidates and eventual winners of the presidential elections as determined by Kenya’s Supreme Court are not as fortunate as another pair of Republican candidates swept into office by a narrow Supreme Court verdict. Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who were also “elected” into office after the Supreme Court (US) voted 5-to-4 against charges of electioneering fraud brought on by former VP Al Gore in the infamous 2000 “Hanging Chad” US Presidential Elections, seem to have escaped a date with the ICC because of their 2003 decision to invade Iraq; an invasion predicated on lies, lies and more lies.”

The one ill America and her leaders had committed or been accused of committing hitherto 2007 that Kenyan leaders could claim they had not committed was crimes against humanity. Now thanks to the president-elect and his VP, we can check that off the Kenyan bucket of things to do i.e. commit crimes against humanity! I would argue that at least the Americans did not commit the crimes against humanity AGAINST American citizens like our leaders are accused of doing, most certainly not in the scale Uhuru and Ruto are accused of. Now one can make a compelling argument that the drone strike that took out Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American born in Denver, on President Obama’s orders, was a crime against an American citizen ergo a crime against humanity and equivalent to what Kenyan leaders did in 2007 – http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/u-s-drone-strike-kills-16-year-old-American-citizen. However, that would be a stretch!

So to paraphrase Bw. Gaithao’s characterization of Raila’s post-Supreme Court behavior, Kenyans should quit being so churlish. They should stop with the fake indignation and haranguing and face up to the fact that their masters of impunity – Uhuru and Ruto – have finally come face-to-face with an entity with deeper pockets and gravitas to match in The International Criminal Court.

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