As the second phase of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) gets underway it is emerging that the pot to trade Deputy President William Ruto for Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga had been hatched long before the country went to the polls on August 8, 2017.
New information points to the possibility of foreign powers having had a hand in propping President Uhuru Kenyatta as fears mounted that Kenya was ceding its primacy as regional economic, military and technological staging ground for the war against terrorism and money-laundering to the new kids on the block – Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda.
In dispatches filed from Kenya before and after the 2017 presidential election that was disputed by the opposition, which also boycotted the repeat ordered by the Supreme Court on October 29,2017, foreign powers were at home with President Kenyatta, who the dispatches suggest is manipulatable in serving their strategic interests.
From the documents seen by Tell Africa, the standoff between the president and his deputy began long before the elections as Mr Kenyatta attempted to close ranks with Raila at the prodding of foreign powers – the United States of America and the European Union.
Citing how Ruto was averse to Kenyatta reaching out to Raila and other opposition leaders in the countdown the polls the report says:
“Today’s ideological struggle in Kenya is dead. It is not a struggle for universal human rights but the defence of the Kalenjin-Kikuyu supremacy from the onslaught of the Luo-Kamba-Luhya-Kisii-Somali and in particular the Luo. Viewed from this prism, the US and EU are obstacles and China for the moment a potential enemy.”
The report, however, does not clarify how China, which has overtaken the West as Kenya’s leading donor in the infrastructure and technological sectors, is an enemy.
President Kenyatta’s unpredictability and inconsistent foreign policy has remained a constant source of worry for foreign development partners – both multilateral and bilateral lenders.
“Nobody knows how deeply Mr Kenyatta believed all this. Maybe, amid the tapping of power, he will wear out guerrilla warfare. Perhaps the economy’s sluggishness will so unsettle the nation’s commander-in-chief and force him into the arms of Raila Odinga. But don’t count on it happening soon. But don’t underestimate the harm that could be done first,” the report that dwells on Kenya’s still-birthed democracy and rule of law, made tenuous by inter-ethnic relations and hostility.
Unlike 2002 presidential election that Kenyatta lost to then opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki when he conceded defeat, the report says in both 2013 and 2017 elections he was reluctant to give up the reins of power.
Another report titled Start a Revolution, the foreign group that monitors political and national security in the country before and after the last elections says that, while the citizens have for a long time known the source of their political and economic problems, they are still reluctant to take the initiative to change ”the rules of the game [that] have been rigged against them for a long time.”
The report says, “It is impossible to be seduced anymore by the potential of the new constitution in Kenya and what is means to the people. The media seems too caught up in spinning political drama – fil with characters from central casting for a Nigerian movie. They (media) never pay attention to how the people are feeling. Just call it sycophancy and lazy thinking.”
The reports also question the mindsets of both the governors and the governed. Despite the struggle to right the wrongs, very little is achieved.
It says. “When thinking about the ongoing problems in Kenya, it is important to remember three things: One, Kenyan leaders, since independence, behave just like the colonial masters they took over from – so attempts to treat them as equals are a waste of time. They grab and, plunder, and rule with impunity. Two, the mindset of most Kenyans is to equate chaos with freedom, not democracy. Hence Kenyan like to resolve all issues by fighting, throwing stones…”
Against this backdrop, the report says development partners should look beyond Kenya, which they fear is drifting towards a failed state.
“Europe and America can no longer have the luxury of overfunding Kenya and ignoring Ethiopia. Ethiopia, the regional military power must be prepared to lead East Africa. Meanwhile, the shenanigans in Kenya should be put in the backburner. After all, 150 million Ethiopians represent a great human capital and destination for goods and services (from America), according to one dispatch.
While BBI is the latest attempt to heal the scars caused by historical injustices, the report raises questions about the extent the efforts will go to realizing a national integration and reconciliation.
“it is not too late for Kenyatta to ditch his bomb-throwers and switch course and meet Raila. The word should expect that armistice. But it must prepare for trouble,” the research report compiled in September 2017 says.
Already, march 9, 2018 caseation of hostilities between Kenyatta and Raila has destabilised the governing Jubilee Party, with the president and his deputy pulling in different directions. DP Ruto accuses the opposition supremo of sowing the seeds of discord that have brought the party on the brink of breaking up.
Kenya ‘s history is replete with instances of short-term political parties. As the strife that has engulfed the governing Jubilee Party grows, there are reports of Ruto contemplating reviving United Republican Party or registering a new outfit to run for the presidency in 2022. The prospect that would continue a trend that began in 2002 when independence party Kanu lost election to the opposition.
The author of the report S.B Kenneth points out democracy is on a recession in Kenya despite holding periodic election since independence in 1963.
He observes, “I do not know what Kenya will be like a few years from now (2017) but I do know that it will not remain true to its democratic pretentions, even with the current constitution. I know this because Kenyans have lost sight if their dream of corrupt-free democratic nation.”
It is the fear of Kenya’s bleak political and economic future that persuaded foreign powers to prevail upon Kenyatta and Raila to hold direct talks in the hope of they agree to form a government of national unity to forestall possible infiltration by criminal gangs in the form of militia groups and terrorists.
“What to do” the first job is to create a premier position for the opposition or the disenfranchised communities. There is little point in supporting Kenyatta alone and thereby the Kikuyu-Kalenjin dominance of the power and the economy any longer. Americans and Europeans need to tell him why he and Ruto and his (Ruto’s) insurgency are wrong,” the report observes.
It adds, “Even in America’s broadest interest her appetite for Kenyatta is misplaced, not least because of the harm to continuing Kenya’s war in Somalia and contradiction of their praise of Kenya’s win, which would be outweighed by lasting peace in Kenya. Kenyatta also needs to be persuaded that a joint government with Raila would be a great source of power. It would bring every disenfranchised community in the fold. If Kenyatta wants to put peace first, his priority is to accept Raila s an equal and share power with him,” the report says.
Given Kenyatta’s past, it had been feared that he would not accede to the suggestion of accommodating Raila. The report advises the US and EU think of realigning eastern Africa “without Kenyan leadership.”
The report provides a scant understanding of the origin of President Kenyatta and Raila agreeing “to work together” and the birth of Building Bridges Initiative by which their political formations have been soliciting views to broaden the executive through constitutional amendments.
– By Juma Kwayera