Friday, February 22, 2008

Washington's View on the Kenyan Crisis: Resolve it Peacefully!

by Scott A Morgan

Ever since the Post-Electoral Violence erupted in Kenya last December, the United States has not only been caught flat-footed but has had to change its position on more than one occasion. We saw the Positions that were put forward by the State Department. After Initially Congratulating President Kibaki on his apparent Re-Election the USA had to backtrack from the Statement after the Violence began in the Western Part of the Country.

Shortly after the First of the new year the Administration sent its most senior Diplomat for African Affairs Dr Jendayi Frazier to Kenya on two seperate Occasions. The First Trip was shortly after the First of Janurary when the Violence seemed to be peaking. In Early Feburary She made another trip while visiting Regional Capitals. During this time the Bush Administration was supporting the efforts of the African Union to bring the rival factions together for a Peace Deal that would hopefully end the bloodshed.

However the Pace of the Talks did not please either Advocates for Africa or their Allies in the Congress. Late in Janurary both the House of Representatives and the Senate Introduced Resolutions that not only called for a Peaceful Resolution of the Crisis but would also urge the US to take considerable action as well.The Senate Resolution passed unamimously by the End of Janurary. The House Version passed by Early Feburary and is now being Considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Foreign Relations Committees of Both Houses did Meet last week to discuss the Crisis. After the Hearings and some Consultations the US State Department decided to Ban 10 Prominent Kenyans from entering the United States. On a couple of occasions the Kenyan Crisis did come up while President Bush was on his recent trip to Africa. Secretary of State Rice did accompany the President to Africa and then diverted to Nairobi. In the Eyes of many Observers Her visit to the talks showed that there was serious interest by the International Community to see the situation resolved without any further bloodshed.

There is one major situation to consider however. The pace of the Current Negotiations may not be fast enough to please the Hotheads. There have been reports that although the basic tenents of a deal have been agreed to the Devil may be in the Details. So the inferred threats of more street protests could be an attempt at leverage instead of threatening to resume the violence. However Groups such as the International Crisis Group are concerned that the violence may erupt again if the Negotiations do breakdown.

The Process itself will be a time consuming Effort.Not everyone will be pleased with not only the deal that will be finally signed but with how events will finally play out. Any deal that is to be brokered has to be implemented before the ink even dries on the paper. The Longer the situation is in flux then the problems could not only escalate but even spread. There have been persistent reports of Ugandan Troops along the border with Kenya and keeping a wary eye on its Neighbor. 25% of Uganda's GDP moves through Kenya. Rwanda has about the same number and for Burundi it rises to 33%. So its not only Kenyans that are suffering.

For Several Years the US has Praised Kenya for being a beacon of Stability in a region where Fighting seems to be a daily norm. Tensions in the Horn of Africa are rising again. Somalia still remains in a perpetual state of anarchy as well. So there was considerable pleasure when Kenya had a Peaceful Change of Government several years ago.
But there were hints that trouble was coming particularly with Press Freedom Issues. Next time the Electoral Cycle will be watched with greater Interest now.

The Author is the Publisher of Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

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