- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2010

KENYA IN CRISIS

Kenya risks a violent backlash worse than the political upheaval after the 2007 presidential election that left up to 1,500 dead, unless the East African nation adopts “significant reforms” that include ending the “culture of impunity” for top politicians like the president and prime minister, the U.S. ambassador in Nairobi warned in a confidential report earlier this year.

“Failure to implement significant reforms will greatly enhance prospects for a violent crisis in 2012 or before — which might well prove much worse than the last post-election crisis,” Ambassador Michael E. Rannebergersaid in the January cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

“Bringing about implementation of the reform agenda poses a large challenge because doing so threatens the culture of impunity and the entrenched political class that has existed in Kenya since independence.”

Mr. Ranneberger explained that most of the political and economic elite benefit from a “lack of accountability with respect to governance, state resources and the rule of law.” He included President Mwai Kibakiand Prime Minister Raila Odingaamong that protected elite.

The political violence that claimed between 800 and 1,500 lives and displaced up to 250,000 Kenyans followed the disputed December 2007 election when officials declared Mr. Kibaki the winner. Mr. Odinga, his opponent in the election, claimed fraud, and supporters for each side clashed for two months. The violence ended when former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan brokered a power-sharing agreement that declared Mr. Kibaki president and Mr. Odinga prime minister.

Since Mr. Ranneberger’s report, Kenya has adopted a new constitution that calls for widespread reforms. However, few changes have been adopted.

In his cable to the State Department and National Security Council, the ambassador noted that the United States “has enormous, unique leverage” in Kenya, the home of President Obama’s father.

He also placed hopes for reforms on a burgeoning civil society, which includes a “vibrant media, a savvy private sector and active religious groups,” and on a demographic change that will bring a younger generation to power.

A spokesman for Mr. Kibaki dismissed Mr. Ranneberger’s assessment, calling it a work of fiction.

DIVINE JUSTICE

Kuwait prefers the swift sword of Allah’s justice for terrorists and drug smugglers but can do little on its own, the interior minister told the U.S. ambassador last year.

Sheikh Jaber al-Khalid al Sabah admitted that his small country is ill-equipped to rehabilitate Kuwaitis released from the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“You know better than I that we cannot deal with these people,” he told Ambassador Deborah K. Jones in a secret diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks. “I can talk to you into next week about building a rehabilitation center [in Kuwait], but it won’t happen.”

Mrs. Jones was complaining about a Kuwaiti terrorist, Abdallah al Ajmi, released to Kuwait in 2005 who ended up killing himself in a suicide bombing in 2008 in Iraq. She said that incident “tarnished” Kuwait’s reputation as a reliable U.S. ally against terrorism and called Kuwaiti detainees “nasty, unrepentant individuals.”

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