It’s right for the Hague suspects to be disabused about Obama’s real stand

By MACHARIA GAITHO  ( email the author)

Posted  Monday, February 11  2013 at  20:00

In Summary

  • Suddenly, by declaring his neutrality, asserting the right of Kenyans to vote for the leader of their choice, and affirming that the US would recognise and work with whatever leadership was elected, Obama became the good guy
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The alacrity with which Jubilee Coalition presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto last week lauded US President Barack Obama’s videotaped statement to Kenyans was impressive.

Jubilation within the Jubilee camp was palpable, for President Obama’s statement served to debunk impressions that the US was against the UhuRuto duo being elected to lead Kenya while set for the dock at The Hague.

While Kenyans generally celebrate President Obama as one of their own leading the most powerful country in the world, the Uhuru-Ruto camp doesn’t like him.

Our backward ethnic profiling make them see the US president, not as the accomplished son of a Kenyan, but as a Luo.

That makes for the extent to which Jubilee activists launched tirades against President Obama during the US elections, even declaring support for his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.

Such reactions were tied to the assumption that President Obama has ties to Cord’s candidate Raila Odinga, hence the propaganda that the US Government must have had something to do with Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto being hauled before the ICC.

It was also assumed that the US and other Western countries were behind efforts to bar Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto from the ballot on integrity grounds, and the implied threat of economic sanctions if the pair was elected.

Suddenly, by declaring his neutrality, asserting the right of Kenyans to vote for the leader of their choice, and affirming that the US would recognise and work with whatever leadership was elected, Obama became the good guy.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were effusive in their acknowledgment, until the bubble burst with the clarification provided by the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.

President Obama’s top African policy advisor reiterated that while Kenyans have the right to elect their leaders, some choices they made would come with ‘consequences’.

He did not have to clarify that he was warning that electing The Hague-bound candidates would attract penalties. His statement was followed by similar cautions from a substantial number of key European countries.

The warnings were followed, predictably, by increasingly hysterical reactions. The most comical were suggestions even from key government functionaries like Public Service head Francis Kimemia that President Obama was the good one, while Mr Carson was contradicting his boss.

That was like clutching at straws, for there was no way the State Department would issue such a clarification without direct instructions from the White House.

It should be apparent that the Carson statement was released as a deliberate response to the Jubilee camp’s self-serving misinterpretation of President Obama’s original message.

When all is said and done, however, the Raila camp does itself no favours with tridiculous homage to President Obama.

During the launch of the Cord alliance manifesto, a large American flag got more attention than Kenyan flags. And while working up the crowds, comedian and aspiring politician John ‘KJ’ Kiarie went overboard with incongruous rhetorical questions about who speaks the language of Obama and who speaks the language of the White House. He should stick to comedy.

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Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo last week cautioned politicians on the campaign trail against night-flying. I support him.

The sudden upsurge of choppers and light aeroplanes zipping around all over our skies makes me very nervous. I’d rather our leaders stuck to terra firma for their own safety.

And driving on our corrugated roads to Wajir, Garsen, Moyale and other distant outposts would be educative for the jet-set.

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I can’t understand why anyone would have chosen Brookhouse School for the presidential debate. The place is not a part of Kenya; it was just uprooted from some tiny locale in the Queen’s realm and transplanted here.

I can almost bet the curriculum lauds the civilising role of the early explorers, and tells the children how Burton, Speke, Livingstone et al discovered Mt Kenya, Mt Kilimanjaro, and Lake Victoria.

mgaitho@ke.nationmedia.com

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