The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) made the decision that the African Union (AU) request for a deferral of Kenya’s cases at the International Criminal Court was not justified. Ironically, this decision was made without a single country actually voting against the request.
The countries that did not support the deferral just opted not to vote at all, ensuring the bid did not get the nine votes required for it to pass; while making sure that no one would be directly blamed for it failing to pass.
Several local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have joined the UNSC members who frustrated Kenya’s bid in arguing that this was the best way forward for Africa. They insist that had the request been accepted it would have become like a red flag to the bull that is impunity African-style.
The NGOs directly, and the UNSC abstaining members indirectly, argue that the African Union is a ‘club’ of illegitimate Presidents who are supporting the Kenyan deferral bid not for the sake of their citizens; but as a means of self-preservation in case one day it is them on the ICC radar. They argue that the AU Heads of State have no legitimacy to represent African victims, because some are the perpetrators in the guise of getting into power, which is through undemocratic means.
Some of the NGOs also claim that President Uhuru Kenyatta is not in office legitimately; because he manipulated the Kenyan electorate to the point where ‘they did not vote in their own best interests’. They also argue that the ‘tyranny of numbers’ of two tribes corrupted the democratic process and gave Jubilee unfair advantage (one wonders what democracy is if it is not tyranny of numbers!).
This is the basis on which they will not recognize Uhuru’s Presidency, or the claim that his case at the ICC is interfering with his presidential responsibilities in Kenya. As far they are concerned he should not even be in office; and maybe the ICC could be what ‘rights’ the ‘wrong’ that was committed on March 4, 2013.
The unfortunate thing about these arguments is that whereas the African Union does have some certifiable tyrants as Presidents of some countries; at least one third of the continent’s population elected their Presidents through electoral processes that the entire world acknowledged as free and fair democratic elections.
President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria; Jacob Zuma of South Africa; Seretse Khama of Botswana; Alassane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivore; John Dramani of Ghana; Macky Sall of Senegal; Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania are some examples of Presidents legitimately in office. Between them they preside over one in every three people in Africa; or over 350 million Africans.
They all supported the Kenya deferral bid.
In the Kenyan case we must acknowledge that Uhuru Kenyatta was not running for President of Kenya unchallenged; that in fact his main rival Raila Odinga is one of Africa’s most astute politicians; who knows every trick in the book.
Uhuru’s victory was also challenged intensely by both the NGOs and his political rivals; and Kenya’s highest court confirmed it. That anyone can continue insisting that his presidency is not legitimate, especially when even Raila has accepted him as Kenya’s legitimate President, shows how insincere some NGOs are.
So the UNSC and its supporting cast of NGOs are happier presenting the entire African Union as illegitimate leaders, who do not know what is in Africa’s best interests; because then they do not have to analyze why legitimate leaders in Africa also supported the bid. This allows them to ignore any decision made by all the 54 sovereign states, otherwise they would have to respect some of them if they acknowledged their legitimacy. (It would put them where America founds itself, when its plans to invade Syria were challenged by Russia).
In addition, de-legitimizing the African leadership helped the UNSC avoid having to substantively consider the basis of the request for a deferral. The AU stated that for as long as Kenya has troops in Somalia, an internationally recognized terrorist haven; there is a risk of heightened terrorism in Kenya and the neighbouring region.
It is also stated that having Kenya’s President shuttling between here and some European city on a regular, internationally accessible, pre-arranged schedule, raises this risk to the stratosphere. These are facts. However as long as they were raised by an ‘illegitimate’ continental body UNSC could pretend the concerns are not real.
The message from Geneva is that Africa must her destiny. African must also develop African solutions for African problems. Finally Africa must challenge the power that the ‘West’ exercises over her. (Power does not concede unless it is challenged). Africa must take power over her own destiny, and make and execute decisions that help Africa. If we fail, the ‘West’ will happily watch us self-destruct, and then pillage the continent in the guise of rehabilitating us (again).
(Wambugu is the Executive Director, Change Associates Trust)