Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kenya Still Burns: AG Calls for Vote Inquiry

Amos Wako, Kenya’s Attorney General, is calling for an independent investigation into the disputed election that has led President Mwai Kibaki's reclaim his office.

Wako’s call came alongside a decision to postpone an opposition rally in Nairobi as violent clashes between supporters and police grew more intense.

The BBC reports that “more than 300 people have been killed and some 70,000 displaced since Sunday.”

It should be noted that even if an investigation finds irregularities in the voting process, the election result can only be set aside by the Constitutional Court.
Opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has rejected the ballot result. Odinga accuses Kibaki of vote rigging and is calling for him to step down.

South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu is in Kenya as I write. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) said tonight in its 7pm news edition that Tutu is trying to get Kibaki and Odinga to negotiate a settlement.

Tutu may even be calling on the two men to establish a Government of National Unity as a means of moving beyond this seeming intractable situation.

Kibaki and Odinga belong to different tribes. Since the violence began last week, both men have accused each other of stoking tribal animosity and inciting ethnic/tribal cleansing.

Al Jazeera also reports that Kibaki is accusing Odinga of genocide.

The situation in Kenya is leading some financial experts in South Africa to worry about the repercussions of tribal violence for the image of African markets.

There is also speculation that Western investors will be worried about putting their money in South Africa because of the tribal undercurrents that is said to boil below the election of Jacob Zuma over President Thabo Mbeki to the presidency of the African National Congress.

Jacob Zuma is a Zulu and President Mbeki is a Xhosa. In the legend of ANC politics it is sometimes said that Xhosa’s are the dominant tribe.

This kind of speculation is absolute nonsense and should be viewed as irresponsible projection at best. South Africa is not facing a disputed election in the terms that Kenya is experiencing.

I suspect that many of those who are worried about tribalism and markets in South Africa paid scant attention to the racism implied in generalizing all of Africa, and its politics, into one prejudicial projection.

It is true that aspects of the fallout in Kenya are underscored by tribal rivalries and violence. Any attempt to stabilize the situation will need intervention and mediation that addresses the areas that relate to tribalism.

But even as one may be horrified by the images of tribal violence that are real, the possibility of national consolidation under a Government of National Unity that is supported by the African Union must be the overall priority.

If the South African transition from apartheid in 1994 proved anything, it would be the that a Government of National Unity is a useful and productive manner to navigate the political acrimony that lies beneath a fractured state.

The next step would be to direct such a government toward national reconciliation like the kind that has brought a remarkable measure of national identity, and unity, to post-apartheid South Africa.

In these terms, I am very happy to know that Archbishop Tutu is present in Kenya to offer some of the experience that has kept South Africa’s democracy stable and largely undisturbed by tribalism.

This post also appears at Indiginest Intelligence Review.



Dade said...

Archbishop Tutu once again demonstrates his nobility and virtue.

The racism that has caused so much horror and grief in Africa, whether today in Kenya or the Sudan, or in the past in South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, is ugly and tragic.

One thing I've learned about Africa is that it is humanity's proving ground. The people there live it. We, in America, just imagine...

Great job, as usual.

Ridwan said...

Thanks kindly for your comment Dade.

It seems as if Tutu may be making progress in getting a consensus on and Government of National Unity.

I am hoping against the evil that is still burning in Kenya.

I think it very true that Africans live hope and humanity against the inhumanity we have endured for too long.

Thanks brother.