Kenya’s New Leader Raises New Questions


1362834031Uhuru-Kenyatta

After a tense few days of long lines and restless citizens, Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the first president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta, has won the Presidential election by the slimmest of margins. Kenyatta passed the necessary 50% mark by 8,000 votes or .07%.¹ Despite controversy regarding the capability of electronic voting, some claims of voter fraud, and a few episodes of violence the election process was relatively peaceful. Maybe peaceful is not the right word because around twenty people were killed, but it was serene compared to 2007 where over 1,000 people were killed in ethnic tribal clashes.² Despite controversy regarding the capability of electronic voting, some claims of voter fraud, and a few episodes of violence the election process was relatively peaceful. Maybe peaceful is not the right word because around twenty people were killed, but it was serene compared to 2007 where over 1,000 people were killed in ethnic tribal clashes. An article in a Kenyan newspaper before this election accentuated the chaos that elections bring to the country:

“This election brings out the worst in us. All the tribal prejudice, all ancient grudges and feuds, all real and imagined slights, all dislikes and hatreds, everything is out walking the streets like hordes of thirsty undeads looking for innocents to devour.”³

The anxieties of the author of that article did not pan out, possibly showing the progress that Kenya has made in democratic elections. However, I cannot continue to be optimistic without addressing the elephant in the room. President-elect Kenyatta has been accused of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court for funding and planning violence after the 2007 election and and will be on trial in July. The accusation brings up a very interesting paradox and also puts the United States in a tough position. The president of a country, the man who will lead 167 million people, the man who will be a role model for millions of children, might go to prison for a very long time. Even though the United States wants to sustain a good relationship with a key ally in a constantly-changing region, they also want to respect the International Criminal Court’s authority. In addition, Kenya is an important part of President Obama’s heritage, possibly forcing him to make emotionally-tough decisions.

I do not believe that the Obama administration should abandon diplomatic ties with Kenya, but the pending charges against Kenyatta should inform the US’s dealings with Kenya. The world of politics does not move particularly quickly so President Obama has time to examine the situation, but he will eventually have to make a decision. If he does choose to “embrace” Kenyatta and continue normal relations there will be serious repercussions, including losing respect from the international community. How could he reprimand Russia or China for supporting Bashar al-Assad, while sustaining a relationship with another murderous criminal? Kenyatta has not been proven guilty yet, but Obama will not look good when he is holding Kenyatta’s hand as he is hauled to prison.

1 Gettlemen, Jeffrey. “Kenyatta Is Declared the Victor in Kenya, but Opponent Plans to Appeal.” The New York TImes. 3/9/13.

2 Gettlemen, Jeffrey. “Neighbors Kill Neighbors as Kenyan Vote Stirs Old Feuds.” The New York Times. 2/21/13.

3 Mutuma Mathiu.Elections: What we must do right to prevent a 2008-style meltdown.” The Nation. 2/14/13.

4 Gettlemen, Jeffrey. “Kenyatta Is Declared the Victor in Kenya, but Opponent Plans to Appeal.” The New York TImes. 3/9/13.

5 Ibid. 1

Image from: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15291&a=64738

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6 responses to “Kenya’s New Leader Raises New Questions

  1. This is one thing that makes me proud about living in America. In America, there is more order or control in the way certain events, such as elections, are handled. However, I do believe that America’s ties with Kenya should be loosen and not too strong. I say this because, if crimes are being committed by high political figures like THE PRESIDENT which promotes violence, that is just wrong. Doing such things goes against what we Americans believe in which is peace and anyone who promotes against it by causing violence shouldn’t be dealt with. Therefore, President Obama would be viewed negatively if he continues to hold Kenyatta’s hand in this political turmoil which affects America’s reputation, especially his reputation as president.

    • I disagree. If the president is endorsing violence in something like elections, what kind of example does that set for the citizens? Furthermore, President Obama is also endorsing these acts by supporting the new president. I think that it he should start closing ties with this new president.

    • I completely agree! In a nation where we do not negotiate with terrorists, why should something like this ever occur. Even if the president has personal ties to Kenya, he must put those behind him in order to do what is in the best interests of the nation as a whole. We don’t need to necessarily avoid an alliance with Kenya forever, just until they formally decide to do with their president elect. The U.S. just needs to stay out of this one for now. America gets involved with too many things it has no business getting involved with and as history as shown, that never ends up very well.

  2. I think that Americas ties should be loosened with Kenyatta. How can Barack Obama stand up in front of our country and say how we are going to take down the terrorists such as Al- Qaeda while having a relationship with someone who killed millions upon millions of people. I think he is sending mixed signals toward our countries on his beliefs and is being very unfair and hypocritical on who he has a relationship with because it looks like he’s befriending a murderer.

  3. The situation occurring in Kenya is tragic. This is the problem with both Democracy’s and Communistic societies: if the person in power is corrupt chaos will ensue. The president cannot let his emotions get in the way of the process; otherwise he will be under much scrutiny. But, if he is not convicted then accusing him of acts of genocide will help us only burn the bridge between Kenya and the US. We have to be a role model here. Honestly, it’s not any of our business. We interfered with the Middle East causing chaos, why on earth should we make the same mistakes?

  4. Yes, I believe that we should loosen our ties with Kenyatta. Although it may be hard emotionally for The President, he is the President and emotions should not get in the way of his judgement. Kenyatta killed millions and millions of people, and i agree with rebecca, what does that say about us a country if we are allies with such a country, where with others we go and try to monitor them (Al-Qaeda). Also, i agree with Rebecca K. because we are always trying to be the good guys and stop terrorist countries, so what does it look like if we stay allies with Kenya, whose leader is a murderer, all because the President has emotional ties. I respect his heritage but when it comes down to our real trust worthy allies, emotions should not come into play.

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