“The World Is With Kenya”


It is not only the citizens and politicians of Kenya who are fanning the flames of political frustration and ethnic tension throughout much of the country. The election observers, the diplomatic community, and the local and international press also have been complicit in the election fraud and postelection tribal violence that has divided Kenya. Each group has failed to prevent or even sufficiently condemn the rigged results which disenfranchised half the country’s voters.


The voting and tallying was observed by dozens of independent agents from Kenya, from the rest of Africa, from Europe, and from the United States. The European Union, who sent the largest contingent, was seen as the leader of the various observer missions. The head of the EU team, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, typically spoke to the press on behalf of the many missions. His comments were consistently flaccid and meaningless. When it became abundantly clear that the election was being stolen, and by whom and even how, Mr Lambsdorff managed only to say, in uselessly noncommittal language, that the alleged instances of fraud raise doubts about the credibility of the electoral process and that “the electoral process has fallen short of international standards.” Such fraud, he said, should be investigated at a later date by an independent body. Never did he say, firmly and unequivocally, in plain English, what was immediately clear to all: The election results are not credible.


The diplomatic community, in particular the Ambassador of the United States to Kenya Michael Rannenberger, has been equally noncommittal about its criticism of the electoral process. The closest Mr Rannenberger has come to any sort of public censure of the stolen election was when he rescinded his congratulations to the officially announced winner. He is recognizing Mr Mwai Kibaki as the elected President of Kenya, despite the manner in which the presidency was, literally, taken. At the same time, he is referring to Mr Raila Odinga as the opposition, despite the clear reality that the Orange Democratic Movement won all levels of the national election. To the disenfranchised citizens of Kenya, he has said: “No election is worth fighting over.”


Finally, the local and international press reports on the election tallying were so simple and cursory that they were little more than a regurgitation of the fraudulent statistics announced by the Electoral Commission of Kenya. It was pure description, without any sort of investigation or even analysis. Never did any journalist bother to investigate the documented instances of electoral fraud. Never did any reporter bother to interview any of the witnesses to that fraud. Never did any analyst state that there is something statistically unlikely and suspicious about the incumbent’s impossible comeback victory on the last day of tallying. By simply regurgitating the statistics presented by the ECK, the media gave immediate default credence to a falsified version of the election results. Even now, no one is bothering to uncover a more accurate version.


By tacitly allowing a falsified election, the international community is contributing to the disenfranchisement of millions of already frustrated and marginalized Kenyans. The world keeps telling these Kenyans that their grievances should be pursued in the electoral courts rather than on the streets of Nairobi, Kisumu, and Eldoret. This is either naïve or cruel. Surely the world understands that the courts are as biased and rigged as the electoral commission. Surely the world knows what the result of such an inquiry would be. If not, the world is naïve; if so, the world is cruel to refer an aggrieved people to an institution stacked against them.


Unwittingly, the international community is contributing to a devastating sense of powerlessness. Every time a supposedly independent observer stands on television to say that Kenya needs to pursue its grievances legally not violently, Kenya’s belief in justice and democracy diminishes a little more. At the same time, political frustration and ethnic hatred burn a little more from the social fabric of this previously stable and peaceful country. Sadly, and very problematically, it is likely that tomorrow’s battles are being planted in today’s hopelessness.


In 1959, much of the Tutsi population of independent Rwanda was expelled from the country. Many of them fled to neighboring Uganda, where, decades later, a second generation of refugees organized itself into the militarized Rwanda Patriotic Front. They invaded their home country in 1990. Four years later, in 1994, the Hutu majority responded with a genocide that killed nearly a million Tutsi. It may take time, maybe even decades, but ethnic frustration always resurfaces, often explosively.