A Case for Special Rapportuers in Kenyan Foreign Policy

May 16, 13 A Case for Special Rapportuers in Kenyan Foreign Policy

Posted by in Featured, Politics

The formation of a new administration is always an exciting time. It is an opportunity to seek innovative ideas that will help in the achievement of prosperity for Kenya.  In consideration of the country’s foreign policy needs, the Office of the President should consider the appointment of special rapportuers in foreign policy. This suggestion is inspired by prevailing speculation that the Executive Office envisions it will constitute trusted advisors and that the Foreign Affairs ministerial docket will fall under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s side of the coalition. It is also motivated by the confident speech, at the swearing-in ceremony at the Moi International Sports Complex, Kasarani; which clarified the need for continued strengthening of East African bonds in the pursuit of “ultimate” integration. While the concept of ‘ultimate integration’ will require illumination, as the administration soldiers on, the President was unambiguous about how the Kenyan state understands: the global context; legitimate international mechanisms; and its role in the community of nations. In this respect ideological contours of a Kenyan external relations construct have emerged and they seek the: prominence of nationalism within a Pan-African agenda; stimulation of the existing regional integration process; opportunities of an Afro-optimistic continent that is abundant with wealth, human and natural resources; value of multilateralism; and inclusiveness in the spirit and practice of global governance institutions. Yet this must be viewed within the context that the country is an attractive ‘frontier’ market, a gateway to the region; a hub for trade and a centre for finance.  The country is keen on peaceful co-existence with its neighbours in order to ensure its economic prosperity. The focus of external relations is not only concerned with the survival of the incumbent administration but also a greater attention to trade and investment issues. However, despite the fact that economic and commercial diplomacy is the first pillar of Kenyan foreign policy, there is no distinct conceptualization in policy and practice that separates one from the other as defined by Raymond Saner and Lichia Yiu. In their...

read more

On The Future of Orange Politics in Kenya

Apr 08, 13 On The Future of Orange Politics in Kenya

Posted by in Featured, Politics

“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” -Albert Einstein A curious element of mature democracies is how political parties or movements deal with electoral loss. It cannot be ignored that many of those who voted for Raila Odinga are not particularly elated by the judgement of the Supreme Court. Yet the outcome has brought closure to the 2013 election contest that was mainly between the winning Jubilee Coalition that is led by Uhuru Kenyatta; and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) that was led by Odinga. The shock of the outcome has sent CORD supporters wallowing in sorrow. Some seem to have assigned the court ruling pseudo biblical comparisons to the release of Barabbas. Nevertheless, in this darkest of night those who stand for democracy must find a way to see the brightest of day.  It is not time to begrudge the Chief Justice and his team as amicus impunitatem. This is too harsh even for a court of public opinion. A detailed judgement will be released and the conclusions that will be drawn from it can then serve as lessons for the ages. For most CORD supporters, the feeling of affront is buried deep within their inherent idealism. This optimism is grounded in the reform movement in Kenyan history that promises inclusivity in all spheres of life within the polity. However, the raw emotion of betrayal that is being exhibited in the continuing callous chatter of social media and the whispered conversations among different core elements of CORD support should lead to a place of self reflection. Thus the question on whether there is a steadfast commitment to ‘Orange’ politics? Orange politics is the political belief in constitutional democratic processes that sprouted from the legacy of the 2005 referendum and whose genesis can be traced to the reform struggles of Kenya’s history. The symbol of an orange...

read more

Reforms and Kenya’s Security Sector Debates

Feb 13, 13 Reforms and Kenya’s Security Sector Debates

Posted by in Featured, Politics

An integral aspect of institutional changes taking place in Kenya are the ongoing security sector reforms. Individual liberties and extended freedoms have been guaranteed by an advanced Bill of Rights in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. This is bound to transform the republic’s perspectives on the precautions, safeguards and sanctuary provided for by the state within the confines of the law. In the Kenyan context security reforms are meant to prevent a re-occurrence of past injustices and to address prevalent challenges faced due to emerging threats, ineffective administrative practices or managerial deeds. These alterations are moves towards enhancing accountability, professionalism, institutionalism and legislative efficiency. New legislation facilitating this process at various stages: some having been passed into law; some awaiting publication after being approved by Cabinet; some currently under review as stake holder consultations are being conducted; and others being put on hold. Their purpose is to establish a democratic, institutional command structure for the country’s security apparatus. In this sense state security is perceived through the logic of the defense and policing of the republic. State security being the maintenance of a country’s survival through the projection of economic, diplomatic political power, whereas state policing is the enforcement of the rule of law, the protection of property and the limiting of civil disorder. In giving effect to the constitution; legislation on the former, has granted functions to appointed organs while setting up roles for proposed participants. Meanwhile, in facilitating the latter; legislation has provided for additional functions and powers in law enforcement by setting new standards in the qualification for appointments and in allowing civilian oversight over procedures by establishing an independent authority. However, both have drawn considerable opposition. In the case of state security, resistance is primarily due to the exceptional nature of provisions that exclude elected officials from security planning and management at lower levels and allow infringements on privacy. This has raised fears of arbitrary and unlicensed acts of force and pervasive acts of cruelty or torture by the security...

read more

One way Kenyans can think about sanctions

The thing about Koffi Annan’s recent statement on Kenya was the sense one got of his “finger wagging”. Being a career diplomat he obviously did not do it literally but you got the clear meaning of it from the tone of his remarks. In an interview with the BBC, Annan remarked that Kenya’s “external relations could be damaged”. Evidently, he did not divulge to what extent this might be possible but he was unambiguous about this being a certain occurrence if Kenyans choose a leadership of International Criminal Court (ICC) suspects. Annan hinted at travel restrictions and the fact that many governments around the world will simply not deal directly with a leadership that will comprise of suspects. Of course a round of rebuttals, phrasing and campaign messaging about how Kenyans should be left to make their own choice was the expected reaction. However, my only wish is that out of this political gamesmanship an explanation on how we could survive any form of sanctions can be given. So, what do Kenyans need to know about sanctions? Of course a simple understanding of our political economy would suffice. The four major elements of the Kenyan economy are its land, its free market orientation, its need for foreign investments and its propensity to trade. Its production is highly driven by informal labour and varied skill levels of employment; the presence of Multi National Corporations (MNCs) in the country; and access to regional markets. The Kenyan economy is one that is highly dependent and responsive to world prices due to our production of primary products. It has a relatively vibrant manufacturing sector while it still relies on a massive agricultural base that is said to be shrinking due to growth in the service industry that has experienced an expansion in the communication and tourism sectors. An elaborate power infrastructure is being developed; the country has a proud constellation of profitable public; and private enterprises some of which have a regional presence. The country has experienced relatively...

read more

Why I am suffering from voter apathy and fatigue

Dec 18, 12 Why I am suffering from voter apathy and fatigue

Posted by in Featured, Politics

I have never been a fan of Caroline Mutoko’s writing. It’s normally too emotionally escapist for my liking because of the raving and ranting style she espouses. However, a recent web posting on Ghafla about the article The Star (the Kenyan version) failed to publish reminded me of the frustration we share as Kenyans on the state of our politics. Putting aside the fact that the article was horribly written and did not deserve publication any way, I would like to point out that there could be more fundamental reasons as to why we are not trooping to voter registration centres. As a young Kenyan I will boldly shift from our tradition of addressing issues by apportioning blame and tagging different sections of society as culprits as Mutoko diligently does week after week. In my examination of our history, systems and the Constitution of Kenya 2010 it seems we have a fundamental flaw in the practise of our foundational construct – our nationalism. Whether it was ‘Harambee’ (Coming together), ‘Nyayo’ (Footsteps) or ‘African Social Justice’, it seems our conduct of nationalism does not go beyond the cobbling of identities in one form or the other for the benefit of a few. Our democratic credentials have no value either. It seems our politics is always about ‘reforms of convenience’. Our ‘Haki Yetu’ (our rights) chants never conclusive end or translate into ‘Wajibu Wetu’ (our responsibilities) actions. This is therefore the first reason why I am doubtful of all the said coalitions; because they promise to bring us together but they don’t definitely articulate what will happen after that. Kenyans have always come together when our needs demanded us to do so; a good example being the Kenyans for Kenyans initiative. Nevertheless every time our unity has been cobbled together by so called nationalists it has been for naught. So unless some illumination emerges to expound what this nationalism really means in terms of economic and social cohesion, within the context of entrenching devolution, I see no...

read more