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How Annan, the West may have ‘elected’ a Uhuru-Ruto presidency

By - | Feb 10th 2013 | 3 min read

By Mwenda Njoka

Charles S  Mbindyo, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and a friend, had an interesting way of kicking off a conversation every time we met for a tête-à-tête at his KeMU Plaza offices (then known as Posta Sacco Plaza) some years back.

Whenever we convened and I sought to understand the workings of a certain Government department or system, with a witty smile and a knowing wink, Mbindyo – or CSM as we called him – would look at you straight in the eye and say: “Young man, let me educate you...” and with that, a long, eye-opening and pleasurable discourse in the workings, functions as well as the known and unknown shenanigans of Government would ensue. And this often made you leave Posta Sacco Plaza a better-enlightened and more knowledgeable citizen in many ways.

And today, I find myself having to use the Mbindyo Phrase;  “let me educate you...” to describe an eeringly different situation and set of circumstances. In this particular case, the Mbindyo Phrase applies in relation to the issue of Kofi Annan and the West’s push against the ICC suspects Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

In modern day social science, there is a principle known as the Law of Unintended Consequences.  This law presupposes that an intervention in a complex situation often tends to create unanticipated and often undesirable results to the intervening parties. When former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan came to town in 2008 at the height of post-election violence, he helped put the country’s scattered pieces back together into one wholesome piece known as the Republic of Kenya. Soon thereafter the West followed suit commending Kofi Annan’s genius work.

For sometime Kofi Annan and the West appeared to hold the moral high ground on the issue of post election violence (PEV) and who should be held culpable for it. That was in order and justified.

Then as time went by and by, both Kofi Annan and western countries, or the European Union if you like, started singing the same tune over and over again like a cracked or broken vinyl record; pontificating to Kenyans that the destiny of the country was in their hands and that the West had no interest to interfere in the country’s presidential election but with the rider “you elect ICC suspects at your country’s risk.”

And early this week US President Barack Obama issued what amounted to a fairly neutral statement explaining that the US had no preferred presidential candidate in the March 4th General Election.

But even before the Obama image had faded off the YouTube screen that was transmitting his statement, former US ambassador to Nairobi, Johnnie Carson, was on air lecturing Kenyans that America has “no preference in the presidential race but Kenyans should know that electing ICC suspects will have its (negative) consequences” on the country.

Now, if that is not telling Kenyans “do not elect Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto”, then I don’t know what it is. If that is “not having a preference in the presidential election”, then I don’t know what is. If someone comes and tells you here are five options and you are free to choose one of them as long as you do not choose option one and two, isn’t that tantamount to telling you that his preferences are options three, four, five and six?

The constant haranguing by the West on the “consequences” of electing ICC suspects amount to the West telling Kenyans, you are free to elect your president as long as that president and his running mate are not Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. And according to the Law of Unintended Consequences, the West’s sermonising appears to have, unfortunately, created a siege mentality and ethnic nationalism among supporters of Uhuru and Ruto to extent that the more the West harps on this tune, the more votes are galvanised for the ICC suspects.

The writer is Managing Editor of The Standard On Sunday



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