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Opinion

The Effect of Electoral Boycotts: Going Forward, We Are Now Hostages Of Fortune And Why Negotiations Between Raila And Kenyatta Is The Only Way Out.

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Thousands of opposition supporters hits the streets on anti IEBC demos, leaders have announced daily protests next week throughout the country.

By Wachira Maina

We’re in a political crisis not a legal one, in spite of what the talking heads are saying.

The Legal Position: In spite of language in the 2013 Raila Odinga petition that suggested that the withdrawal of a candidate at this stage of an election could lead to fresh nominations I think that on balance the better view is that the IEBC will now treat this as an uncontested election and proceed to declare Uhuru elected unopposed. (The issue of fresh nomination was not an issue in that petition so, strictly speaking, what the court said then is not binding). There is, of course, the decision of the high court- still awaited- in the Ekuru Aukot case -challenging the anointing of Uhuru and Raila as the only candidates eligible to run on the 26th of October, 2017). This could still lead to other candidates being allowed to compete. God knows President Kenyatta now desperately needs this to go Ekuru’s way to give a bland simulacrum of formal legitimacy to what surely is a political curve-ball, irrespective of what Jubilee insiders might now say.

The Coming Institutional Decline: This brings me to the real issue. In my view, this is no longer a legal issue. In fact, further involvement by the court in this issue- whichever way- is not likely to resolve the underlying political problem.

As I see it what we have here is continuing institutional decline of a state which, over time, has become a pure instrument of political struggle and vehicle for pursuing elite interest. If you win power in Kenya, you can bend the law and the economy to your personal interest. This seemed to have changed somewhat under Kibaki but the state as instrument of the ruling power is back with a vengeance.

What we are seeing now is a country on the verge of becoming a ‘warlord democracy,’ a country in which who gets into office will be determined through violence – whether official violence or chaos by private militia and gangs- even though such violence will be marketed publicly in the name of the people. The economy has already been ‘criminalised’ and is bent to those in power and their cronies: as I said elsewhere Kenya is a contractor democracy in which commercial transactions are both personalized and clandestine, defeating all the theories of an open market. (Think- if you doubt our criminal economy- of the runaway corruption, open money laundering and wanton budget raiding at both the national and county level etc). The politics has, so far, been straddling between the lawful ( Sometimes we see compliance with rules and obedience to court decisions) and the unlawful (There is still open vote buying; the opponents are sometimes murdered- especially at lower levels and the hiring of gangs to break the knee-caps of the recalcitrant or the deployment of riot police in non-cmplianct regions).

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In the next phase of this dangerous but evolving game, there will be even less pretence that we are playing normal politics. We shall have the unholy trinity of a) criminalized economy; b) warlord politics and c) a deeply polarized civil society (with some in the marginal areas heavily armed with guns smuggled from regional conflicts). From an economic perspective, the immediate risk is both domestic and external. Domestically, the contraction of economic activity will weaken government revenues, increase unemployment- especially youth unemployment- and ratchet up social stress, all destabilizing factors. Externally, as the government continues to clobber its opponents even as its revenues shrink, our sovereign rating will be further down-graded, making the interest payments on our growing external debt even more burdensome. Sooner than later we shall be talking to all the guys we hate talking to so much: our creditors, the IMF, the World Bank and other members of that usual gang.

The Limits of Law: Will the NASA boycott work though? As a general matter, I believe, that we lawyers are all too often seduced by our faith in the ability of law to solve social and political problems. Behind every constitution, I like to warn myself, is a fundamental moral principle, the commitment that a constitution will always be obeyed even – especially, I should say- when such obedience hurts our vital political interests. Judge Learned Hand once said that if liberty dies in the hearts of men and women neither the Constitution nor the Supreme Court can save it. Our problem right now is that our commitment to legal instrumentalism leaves us stranded on the horns of a cruel dilemma. We have an elaborate constitution but few citizens and leaders are committed to its robust enforcement. In fact, all the social media lawyer blathering by partisans of either side that “the law is clear” are just fig-leafs that mask competing power claims that have slender constitutional legitimacy. A heightening of the heat not a shedding of the light on the problem, if you see what I mean.

The Effect of Electoral Boycotts: Going forward, we are now hostages of fortune. Electoral boycotts are notoriously unpredictable. As a general point, such boycotts are important not because of their effect on the election results but because of their potential effect on the legitimacy of government if the boycott is effective.

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A boycott can lead to 1) a terminal political crisis for the incumbents (as happened in Bangladesh in 1996); 2) no immediate effect on incumbents but a destruction of the opposition (as happened with Blaise Campaore in Burkina Faso in 1991 and Gnassingbe Eyadema in Togo in 1993); 3) a broader constitutional crisis- (as happened in Thailand in 2006- though this was a boycott of the announced election results. The elections were declared invalid by the constitutional court. This led to the resignation of the Electoral Commission with some Commissioners being later jailed for illegalities. A fresh election was then held at the end of that year, 2006).

The second part of outcome 2 – the destruction of the opposition- does not seem likely in Kenya. Elections in Kenya tend to be like an ethnic census. I don’t see NASA’s core support dissipating or crossing over to Jubilee, especially when the situation like the current one exists. Meaning that we are probably looking at a deepening political crisis in the medium-term, hence my fear that we will slide into a “Warlord Democracy” sooner rather than later.

The Brutal Truth: There is NO long-term solution that does not involve either 1) Uhuru and Raila agreeing a political solution (I don’t know the shape and content of that. I do not buy the argument that NASA has all along been playing this game to force a coalition government; or 2) failing that, Raila would have no choice but to up the ante if he wants to keep his base intact. Unfortunately, Uhuru is temperamentally incapable of restraint. His pride is easily wounded when he feels slighted and right now he seems to feel that the opposition do not see him as “Commander-in-Chief”. He will almost certainly call out the police and brutalize Raila’s base. Unfortunately, few countries can sustain a cycle of protest and violence beyond a month before the police and army break down into partisan political factions. If I am right about this, then one of either Raila or Uhuru will eventually buckle. When that happens, we shall revert to either option 1 – negotiations – in which Uhuru is the weaker party- as is always the case when an incumbent is forced to make concessions – or Government resistance with more aggressive repression targeting all regime opponents- in the short-term, this might politically marginalize Raila but it would take the country back to the early 1990s, which would incinerate any legacy that Uhuru thought he had secured.

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We are in this situation because the antipathy between the Kenyattas and the Odingas has completely clouded either side’s perception of what a reasonable way out is. The two are a phone-call away from each other. I am sure they have each other’s cellphone numbers. And still they bellow at each other through TV microphones and loud-hailers at political rallies. The problem is that their respective political bases – egged on by their social media nutters- see the other side exactly as the two see each other: grasping and double-dealing ogres with whom it is impossible to strike a deal that could be honored. Uhuru’s core support is not pro-Uhuru, some are in fact viciously critical of him, they rather are rabidly anti-Raila. Raila still has more ‘religious’ support than Uhuru but this, too, has somewhat dissipated over time. Yet such support as he still has is hysterically anti-Uhuru. They too are shouting at each other across a chasm that might yet swallow the county. Thus does Kenya suffer from a family feud that increasingly begins to look like a blood feud. I despair.

(NB: There are some who think that I am exonerating the IEBC from culpability for running a monkey of an election. I am not. However, the form that the crisis has now taken is unquestionably driven by leaders. Once the Supreme Court delivered its judgment, it lay with the politicians to get the IEBC problem sorted out. Uhuru and Raila cannot sort IEBC out because they won’t talk to each other even though they both know that Kenya is hurtling to a terminal crisis. Of course, the structural cause of all this is our screwed up ‘state” as well as the terminally decrepit electoral system. However, the proximate cause is the politicians. And no, the structural problems cannot be addressed before the 26th of October 2017!)

Writer is a lawyer and seasoned columnist. 

 

Opinions are writers own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Kenya Insights. 


Kenya Insights allows guest blogging, if you want to be published on Kenya’s most authoritative and accurate blog, have an expose, news, story angles, human interest stories, drop us an email on [email protected] or via Telegram

Kenya West is a trained investigative independent journalist and a socio-political commentator on matters Kenya and Africa. Send me tips to [[email protected]]

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Opinion

Violet Kemunto: The Changing Face Of Terror And Why Now Al Shabaab Targets The Young And Educated Men And Women For Recruitment In Kenya

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Violet Kemunto

How does a country deal with Al-Shabaab returnees, home grown terrorism and an increasing attractiveness of young people who don’t come from disadvantaged backgrounds to extremism? These are the challenges Tuesday’s attack at dusitD2 hotel complex has presented Kenya’s security apparatus.The revelation that those who executed the attack and part of the planning are locals has sent shock waves across the country on why a bunch of Kenyans would plan the slaughter of their fellow countrymen on orders from across the border.An affidavit filed in court by the Anti-Terror Police Unit seeking detention of five people showed that Ali Salim Gichunge and Violet Kemunto, believed to have played a key role in planning the attack, were being faclilitated from Somalia.

“A quick perusal of their phone numbers shows they were in constant communication with several contacts in Somalia,” said the affidavit filed by Inspector Monica Githaiga.Although local terror cells have been used on several occasions to carry out attacks, Tuesday’s was the first of such a grand scale to be planned and executed by Kenyans. This shows a change in strategy by Al-Shabaab which has previously sent Somali nationals from their ranks to carry out a big hit.

The Westgate and Garrisa University attacks, which stand out as being on almost a similar scale in terms of strategy and execution, were led by fighters who had crossed the border from Somalia. Additionally, the two biggest names associated with the attack, Gichunge and Kemunto, have broken the stereotypic view and the long standing association of ethnic Somalis to terrorism by Kenyans. While distancing themselves from terrorists, residents of Eastleigh who closed their shops for an hour on Friday to honour those who died at dusitD2, said Somalis and Muslims are peaceful and do not advocate such killings.“The community is here to say no to terrorism, no to extremism and no to violence.

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Al-Shabaab do not enjoy any support from this community. They do not represent or talk on our behalf,” said Kamkunji MP Yusuf Hassan.“We are not Al Shabaab, neither do they speak for us. We do not agree with their ideology of killing innocent people. Eastleigh is not a hub for terrorists. We will find them and flush them out,” vowed Yusuf.

Backfiring moves

When Kenya deployed its forces into Somalia and offered to train some of the distressed country’s soldiers, it had no idea that the move would set it on a collision course with an enemy it had set out to annihilate. As the Somali soldiers were getting their training at Archer’s Post, some 70 kilometres from Isiolo Town and at Manyani in Taita Taveta, another training of sorts was going on. Young Kenyan men and women were being lured by the same enemy the government was trying to keep off.

And this time, it was different. The enemy switched it up a bit and went to the very core of society, convincing and recruiting from the very heart of the communities. One of these men and women was Gichunge, whose face his family says, had been away from them for years, only to resurface on CCTV footage as one of the attackers in the bloody Riverside attack that led to the death of dozens.At the time, Isiolo was one of Al-Shabaab’s fertile recruiting grounds.

Hundreds of youth, according to intelligence sources, had been recruited from here. Those recruited include high school students. Some youth, including university students, had also been reported to have disappeared. And this was not the only change in strategy. Although the psychology of the recruit remained the same, their sociology too changed. From recruiting the downtrodden and poorly educated, recruiters trained their eyes on well-educated children from well off families.

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The situation is similar in Marsabit, where the now famous ‘Mount Marsabit Warriors’ were lured into Somalia by a teacher who graduated from Garissa University. To date, the whereabouts of the five boys and three girls as well as their female teacher remain unknown. Isiolo County Directorate of Criminal Investigation Raphael Wawire said Gichunge hails from Isiolo, and is one of the many youths lured away by Al-Shabaab.

Former Isiolo County Commissioner George Natembeya, who is now in the same capacity in Narok, had in 2016 said that scores of youth had been recruited into the terror group, but some had come back.Yussuf Dogo of Friends of Nomads International (Foni), an NGO that works in northern Kenya counties, said Al-Shabaab had devised “known ways” (recruiting non-Somalis and Coastal) to disguise its campaign to carry out terror attacks.

The reality that Al-Shabaab can now use Kenyans to carry out such large scale attacks and that terrorism can no longer be related to a certain community or lack of economic opportunities is what experts say is the changing face of terror. Kemunto, a journalism graduate from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), has continued an emerging pattern of educated individuals who are increasingly joining terror groups.

A study, Violent extremism in Kenya: Why women are a priority, conducted by the Institute for Security Studies in Africa last year said that least 58 students have abandoned universities to join terrorist groups in Somalia, Libya and Syria in the last three years.One of the masterminds of the Garrissa University massacre in 2015, Abdirahim Mohamed, was studying to be a lawyer at the University of Nairobi. On February 2016, police arrestedHassanaen Ahmed, a University of Nairobi biochemistry student, as he was reportedly leaving the country to travel to Libya to join the Islamic State group.

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Later in May that year, Gloria Kavaya, a microbiology student at Kenyatta University, was also arrested after she disappeared from school, changed her name and embarked on what police said were plans to travel to Syria.“The stand out fact from this week’s attack is that the Al-Shabaab has proven that it is still around and it is able to recruit beyond the ethnic Somali base,” says James Ndung’u, a security expert.

Returnees dilemma

“What should worry security stake holders is how fast Al Shabaab can evolve to new challenges like opting to use locals when it can no longer send fighters across the border due to strong counter terrorism measures by the Kenyan government,” he observes.Ndung’u says one factor making it easy for the Al-Shabaab to recruit from within Kenya is the inability by government to effectively integrate returnees, which means most of them do not completely cut links with the terror group.

This view is also shared by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) which says while the government has several programmes meant to support the returnees who wish to be reintegrated back to society, the reality is most of them fear getting arrested if they come out.“Returnee support for the programme has been limited by their fear and mistrust of the government and its security agencies. Returnees simply stay clear,” says ISS in a research paper published recently.

Article first appeared on Standard


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Opinion

Ezekiel Mutua Suddenly Loves A Gay Man

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If there’s one public officer who has been an excellent bothersome and a nuisance to creativity in Kenya then it’s the KFCB’s boss Ezekiel Mutua, a known self centered man with ego bigger than our Chinese debts, the film’s board CEO has killed morale of production in this country thanks to his fake moral standards.

I’ve lost count on the number of videos and films Mutua has banned in the name of maintaining moral levels. Just the other day, he banned Rafiki a lesbian love story, the film went ahead and won big international awards and is set for an Oscars nominations after Kenyan court uplifted the ban.

Mutua banned the film saying it was promoting homosexuality something he terms unacceptable in the Kenyan society. Christened moral police, Mutua has been a butt of jokes given most of bizarre statements that he makes, neither recently made international headlines when he accused tourists of teaching lions gay tendencies when a gay lion was discovered in Nairobi Park.

If we’re to dedicate this on the fallacious statements Mutua has made, we’d need a whole book. Mutua has been harsh critic of homosexuality and has been shouting on the top of his lungs against the topic that has had him ban a number of good films inline demoralizing and killing creativity in the film industry.

In the backdrop of all the homosexuals bashing, the attention courting executive surprised many when he came into the defense of JCC for hosting and allowing CNN’s Richard Quest to use the church’s pulpit. Quest is a publicly confessed gay with a partner he stays with both in New York and London where homosexuality is accomodated.

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Comments from Kenyans criticized the acceptance of Quest into the church saying it was a show of double standards and hypocrisy on the church since they’ve never given any local a such a chance despite the fact that there are many open gay men and women on Kenya. It is the white mans complex that’s being said to have given the visiting journalist an upper hand and even earned him support from unexpected corner and that’s from Mutua.

Below is what Ezekiel Mutua said on Quest’s church appearance;

So guys are on Rev. Kathy and Bishop Kiuna for letting CNN top journalist Richard Quest into their church today, after his confessed gay lifestyle? Honestly? In my view Quest’s visit to the Jubilee Christian Church today and his interview with Rev. Kathy Kiuna is one of the highlights of his visit, besides his coverage of the KQ inaugural flight to New York tonight and the Mpesa revolution.

If Quest’s main mission was to highlight life changing ventures and innovations in Kenya, then today he was in the right place. Rev. Kathy and Bishop Kiuna are the true exemplification of the Kenyan spirit of self-belief, resilience, hard work and faith. They have conquered many odds to be who they are today.

Like or hate them, the Kiunas have influenced millions. No one can deny the fact that the Kiunas have given hope to many youths. Theirs is the true story of audacity of hope. Such are the unique stories that need to be highlighted about Kenya. Quest may be gay, but he is a top notch journalist who can sense newsworthy stories with unique angles.

The Kenya Film Classification Board cleared him and provided gratis licenses for his entire crew because we trusted in his professional ability to highlight the real stories about Kenya and her people. His sexual orientation has nothing to do with his work. Let him be. Let the Kiunas be. Quest was not in church to sell gay ideology. He was there to cover a story of resilience and hope. He chose to highlight variant topics of hope and determination and that is a good thing.

Mutua strikes as a man of double speak and you can be so sure he wouldn’t have such a detailed justification we’re it that a gay Kenyan did the same. All said, there’s nothing wrong at all in having Quest at the church, that’s besides the point, all that’s needed is everyone to make a stand and accept everyone as they’re regardless of race, sexuality and all other dynamics. If you don’t conform, you make a solid stand and don’t move with the wind like a leaf in this case Mutua.

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Investigations

Dear DPP Noordin Why Is Kenya Pipeline MD Joe Sang A Free Man With Looting Evidences

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KPC MD Joe Sang addressing a press conference

Nobody can stop reggae when it comes to the new DJ in town, DPP Haji but it seems somebody can reduce the volume. We’ve seen parastatals chiefs arrested and arraigned in courts over corruption scandals and consequently bundled out of office.

Kenya Pipeline’s top management led by MD Ken Tarus whom were engaged in lightening embezzlement of public funds and abuse of office, were all arrested and sent home. It was the last large scale arrest that did not only restore hopes in the ODPP but gave a relief to the public who’re the victims of corporate exploitation.

Billions have been siphoned out of Kenya Pipeline and scams endlessly exposed. This site has been consistent together with other publications in highlighting the high scale siphoning and loofingbof public funds at the KPC offices.

KPC MD Joe Sang who’s a relative to the Energy CS and who’s appointment has been challenged with petitioners saying it wasn’t procedural and out of nepotism, is a man in focus not only over his overnight wealth acquisition but his network within the company that has now been losing billions to the cartels.

According to an intelligence report KPC MD Joe Sang-Nephew Hillary Langat 0722957996 is the lead money collector for KPC MD whose phone contacts can be traced to all KPC supplier who have been paid or awarded contracts.

He’s net worth is over a billion under KIMBELL INVESTMENTS Limited and LENKIM SERVICES LTD he hold the property on behalf of KPC MD JOE SANG

It doesn’t make any logical sense why the DPP is taking time and giving more time to KPC crooks to cook and evade their net. Sang continues to slay on tv screens denying corruption allegations in a standard style of all corrupt officials.

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According to our sources both at the DCI and at KPC, detectives had already raided the KPC offices and collected crucial evidences that would’ve been useful in preparing a case.

DCI Kinoti is on record saying the investigations are underway and one wonders why it hasn’t taken the speed of NYS thatbhad suspects rounded up in a short while. The thieves involved in the KPC theft that’s the top management are all known.

A serious lobbying has been going on behind the scenes as we gather from our sources to have the authorities go down on the investigations. Senior politicians both in Goverment and on retirement from Kalenjin, have been lobbying for the MD and tip management mostly the same community, to be spared and from the looks, the talks are paying off. Nothing is being heard of the investigations.

A number of DCI sources had intimated to Kenya Insights a few weeks ago on the completion of investigations and how all the files were ready and forwarded to the ODPP for arrests orders before cold water went over the case.

We’re now urging and reminding the DPP and DCI that we have our eyes on this case and other corruption scandals thriving in the public offices to be taken into full considerations. We want to assume that your competent offices haven’t been swallowed into petty political bargaining to let thieves go free.

It will be high class of double standards to implement the law selectively and go against your words that there are no sacred cows. We also would want EACC not to just watch from the fence but deeply scrutinize the wealth of KPC top bars. A lifestyle audit will unearth major scams in the company.

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Sear Noordin, we want to see the Sangs and mysterious lads in the KPC looting like David Muge aka MR.MD and every single person who’s stolen a cent at Kenya Pipeline, Arrested and arraigned in the courts. We don’t want to see criminal characters running key parastatals as KPC. We therefore demand for arrest and successful prosecution of MD Sang and his henchmen who must immediately be sacked. No sacred cow, you said Mr. Haji, over to you sir. We’re watching. The hashtag is #ArrestJoeSang


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