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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kenya's Day of Monumental Shame

If there is any one out there who wonders if a new constitution in Kenya will bring an end to state impunity or abuse of power or disregard to the law, August 27th 2010 was your answer. If there is any one out there who still doubts Africa’s lack of commitment to international obligations or honor or justice or human rights, August 27th was your answer.

The decision of the Kenyan government to invite an indicted war criminal to a most solemn and hallowed national event is unspeakable.

Omar El-Bashir is a criminal. El-Bashir presided over the rape and murder of hundreds of thousands in Darfur. The U.N. estimates that 300,000 people; men, women and children have been butchered in this needless war. 3 million more have been forced to flee.

El-Bashir is impervious to shame. He has cultivated a thick cordon of African leaders under the guise of AU member states who continue to block tougher international action against his regime. Mr. Kibaki is one of them. And Kenya has joined the league of pariah nations that provide safe passage to war criminals.

I would suspect that this is a favor that Mr. Kibaki would like reciprocated at some future date. I would like to suggest that the perpetrators of Kenya’s post election violence will have safe passage into Sudan if the ICC moves to issue arrest warrants.

Over the last week lawyers, human rights activists and outraged citizens have been asking Mr. Kibaki’s government to explain why El-Bashir was on the guest list.

At the risk of sounding fatalistic, my answer to them is get used to it! Do not fool yourselves, nothing changed. This place is still called Kenya and it operates pretty much on whims and caprices of people called politicians.

August 27 was not about Kenyans and their agitation for the new constitution. August 27 was a state function, a day for Mr. Kibaki and his friends to get together. And El-Bashir is a friend and neighbor of Mr. Kibaki's. If you had a beer on August 27 I bet you paid for it. El-Bashir did not have to pay for his drinks.

What new constitution? I thought that was just for how Mr. Kibaki would like to be remembered. Even I would like my name used in adjacency to words like second republic. I do not care what that really means.

I am not sure a signature on a piece of paper means much around here. Kenyan’s, please, just stuff it and get back to work!

Mr. Kibaki just did that. That is what I call leading from the front. And so can you.

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