Excerpt : Last week’s US President Obama’s visit to the country must have got the opposition groups off-guard, but found Jubilee pretty ready. In the run-up to the visit, both sides had lowered the usual political rhetoric in an unusual discrete understanding that astounded political pundits.
Last week’s US President Obama’s visit to the country must have got the opposition groups off-guard, but found Jubilee pretty ready. In the run-up to the visit, both sides had lowered the usual political rhetoric in an unusual discrete understanding that astounded political pundits. The disquiet in the political class was not however lost to the discerning visitor who had an astounding grasp of the local politics and issues..
For the ruling party, the visit was both an endorsement by the leading global power that had displayed a condescending attitude to the regime in its infancy, and a statement of approval of its economic leadership in the region, demonstrated by the hosting of GES2015. In recent years, President Uhuru had demonstrated his leadership as a regional kingpin in an African shuttle diplomacy that raised his profile among his peers, which US and other Western powers found it hard to ignore. In short, Jubilee had Obama at home on its terms.
Cord was uncomfortable from the start. The visit would pull the rug from under their feet and give Uhuru the legitimacy they believe he lacked because of the election petition they still frown upon. Then, they had hoped Obama would give them a good ear as the US often did to opposition groups. Regrettably, except for Raila, his colleagues in the opposition were amateurs in the game. They were nurtured in government and have had little exposure in dealing with a high profile foreign leader while outside the fence. Their challenge was how to impress upon Obama to crack the whip on Uhuru whilst not been seen to be washing our dirty linen in public. The fumbled and lost dearly.
Clearly, times have changed greatly. That the US could openly disparage the opposition in preference to a government they had so hopelessly opposed was telling. Soon after, I had hoped the Cord principals would ride off into the horizon, to some distant place to cool off their heels and get back into the country’s network quietly. Their feeble attempt to explain their charlatan téte-á-téte with Obama about Uhuru’s government did not get them off the hook. It gave Uhuru team the moral high ground to tell them off in an activist mode.
Obama roundly addressed some of the issues Cord usually harps on, both in public and in private. These include issues of ethnicity, corruption and the war on terror. Had Cord tactfully kept their cool with Obama, they would have had the moral ground to rub it in on Jubilee. Not that Cord would have handled some of these issues any differently. For instance, on ethnicity, they suffer the same fault lines as jubilee, if not worse. Similarly, on corruption, I can bet some of the Cord principals and their key leaders would have played ball with corruption cartels if they were in power. In the Grand Coalition, they looked the other way at best. In most cases, they joined the team; hear no evil, see no evil, tell no evil!
Cord would probably have handled the anti-terror war a bit differently, though not quite as Obama had suggested. I am certain the passionate profiling and the arbitrary arrests of Somalis would have been less profound. There are folks in that outfit who would not accept Jubilee’s mob-lynching and economic strangulation of communities under the guise of war on terror. Still, the forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings took shape during the Grand Coalition when the Cord brigade were the co-drivers. Still, Obama underscored Cord’s rhetoric on this one.
Regrettably, the opposition displayed their weak underbelly during the visit to the advantage of the Jubilee government.