Today its fifteen days to election in Kenya and the IEBC has just released the full list of canditates cleared to contest various posts.
Lately the US has been at pains to explain that it does not endorse any specific candidate in the fourth coming Kenya elections but endorses the process. The official line from Washington is that the people of Kenya have a right to elect whoever they choose but have added a caveat that as in any free action in life, choices have consequences.What recourse does the USA realitically have should the Kenyan voters give it the finger?
President Obama’s view on International Justice is as follows: “From Nuremberg to Yugoslavia to Liberia, the United States has seen that the end of impunity and the promotion of justice are not just moral imperatives; they are stabilizing forces in international affairs. The United States is thus working to strengthen national justice systems and is maintaining our support for ad hoc international tribunals and hybrid courts. Those who intentionally target innocent civilians must be held accountable, and we will continue to support institutions and prosecutions that advance this important interest. Although the United States is not at present a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and will always protect U.S. personnel, we are engaging with State Parties to the Rome Statute on issues of concern and are supporting the ICC’s prosecution of those cases that advance U.S. interests and values, consistent with the requirements of U.S. law.” Barack Obama, US President May 2010 National Security Strategy.
Two gentlemen who could be President and deputy President after the March 4th 2013 elections have cases pending before the ICC. On December 15, 2010 President Obama released a statement in support of the ICC Prosecutor’s announcement naming them among others as suspects in the Kenya investigation. The State Department affirmed this support on January 23, 2012 when the Court confirmed charges against four of the six suspects. On February 11, 2010 Ambassador Rapp announced that the US would assist the ICC to protect witnesses who testify before the Court in its proceedings on Kenya.
On May 27, 2010 President Obama issued the US National Security Strategy which affirmed that “we are engaging with State Parties to the Rome Statute on issues of concern and are supporting the ICC’s prosecution of those cases that advance U.S. interests and values, consistent with the requirements of U.S. law.”
The USA is in agreement with the work and actions of the ICC, so what happens if on March 5th the President elect and the Deputy President elect are also suspects of the ICC and unlikely to follow through with their promises of cooperation?
These are facts about Kenya as seen by the USA:
• Kenya’s cooperation on counter-terrorism is among the United States’ most important relationships in Africa.
• Limits on intelligence-sharing or military cooperation would be self-defeating, since cooperation on counter-terrorism is vital.
• General aid or trade sanctions often hurt the population and serve as a very blunt instrument for changing individual behavior.
• A quick change in Kenya’s AGOA status might also discourage foreign direct investment elsewhere in Africa as companies depend on stable and long-term access to export markets.
• Stopping Money transfers from the Diaspora may hurt families and business whose only crime would be to be located in Kenya
When I was growing up in Kenya, the word on the street was that the US was a leaky house in which you could not take shelter safely!, people wrongly or rightly pointed to Patrice Lumumba, Angwings Kothek, Tom Mboya and Dr Ouko to say that if the US sided with you against the establishment in Africa, you are fodder!
The questions doing the rounds are, “Is having a stabilizing effect and holding those who intentionally target civilians more American interest than counter-terrorism that a President Uhuru would offer, if not what happens to the witnesses whose names and locations will be available to President Uhuru?” The fact that the State Department is not willing to be forthright about the consequences of Choices should be a sign of things to come.
Considering the administration’s own discomfort with the USA law prohibiting direct aid to ICC, will the administration be legalistic or moralistic in dealing with a country whose majority would have voted to elect an International Criminal Court suspect? Does the USA have a follow back plan should the people in power in Kenya be hostile to USA interests?
The US seem to have fewer levers to pull, but they may surprise a population that shows them the finger!
The way I see it the USA will have a decision or have already made a decision either to cooperate with the President elect and look the other way as witnesses are wasted away or carry out interventions that must be swift and clearly aimed at isolating and neutralizing individuals. The process would have been husbanded better, but having reached where we are, no one in Washington DC should be looking forward to March 5th in Kenya. The world will be force to abandon the witnesses, the IDPs and principal OR Do something drastic – I have learned not to bet against the Obama administration but the candidates in Nairobi are sitting pretty!