Unity Government Or Kenya Recount?

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[Black Star News Editorial]

As bloodshed mounts, the United States is now backing off its hasty approval of the Kenya elections with new concerns that the East African country could become a campaign issue in the US presidential elections with charges that the Administration dropped the ball.

This is a good thing if it helps resolve the crisis in Kenya, which so far had been the beacon of stability and prosperity in East Africa, like Tanzania.

Kenya’s principal Western backers, including the US and UK are now desperately exploring solutions with Kenya's incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki and primary challenger Raila Odinga. There are indications that Kenya’s backers favor some form of interim national unity government or a recount of the votes.

The US had not anticipated that chaos would erupt to the extent that it has with protests in several Kenyan cities. The country is operating under an undeclared state of emergency, with armed forces and police patrolling the streets to prevent violence by protestors and in some cases marauding gangs. The government has clamped down on media.

There is concern in the Republican Administration that Kenya's crisis could gain added US media visibility. The father of leading Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, was from Kenya. The US also has other self-serving considerations—The Bush Administration is concerned that extended chaos in Kenya would cause Islamists to regroup in Somalia or even to infiltrate Kenya.

After initially congratulating President Mwai Kibaki, who claims to have won the elections held last Thursday, the US now agrees with the EU and the UK government that the elections were flawed.

The turmoil that has roiled Kenya and caused more than 120 deaths following protests after Kibaki’s quick swearing in can't be treated simply as acts of vandalism.

Opposition candidate Raila Odinga says the elections were stolen. The EU has said the tallying of the election results was "not credible," and the UK has also expressed similar views. Moreover, at least four election commissioners have parted with others and publicly supported a review, Kenya media reports say.

In an indication that the Western countries that are Kenya's principal sponsors are now coordinating their positions, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown also has spoke to both  Kibaki and Odinga, according to media reports.

It's unclear whether Kibaki and Odinga could share power. The two had worked together five years ago to defeat the candidate favored by the long-time dictator Daniel arap Moi.

Ironically, after falling out with Odinga, Kibaki recruited the discredited Moi, who is believed to have embezzled hundred of millions of dollars, to help him with the recent elections.

Yet, for the sake of Kenyans, the entire East African region and the African continent, stability and peace must trump political considerations.

A recount, at least of the votes from constituencies that have been heavily disputed, would be preferable; otherwise a unity government would be better than prolonged chaos.


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