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Foreign interests funding civil society to compromise Kenya’s sovereignty

Monday March 18 2013


The following countries and institutions are waging a form of legal warfare — called lawfare — against Kenya’s electoral results and the winning team.

The Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, the UK’s DfID; the Embassy of Finland; the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kenya; German’s GIZ; and UNDP’s Amkeni Wakenya Programme.

They almost wholly fund the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCog), a civil society group that unsuccessfully sued the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to stop the vote tally following the General Election, and now is part of a civil society lawsuit to nullify the results of the presidential poll.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.  Lawfare is the use of the law as a weapon to achieve geostrategic or political ends, and consists of the manipulation of domestic legal systems by State and non-State actors to implement laws inconsistent with the general principles of sovereignty. 

The refusal of AfriCog’s funders to congratulate the president-elect, and the “essential contact” statements by European envoys prior to the election, tell the tale.

That tale has to do with Europe’s position on the ICC cases against Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto, which is being represented as a principled stand for international law and for the victims of Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008. 


That may have been believable in the early days of the ICC but no longer. The African Union and its members, and others in the international community now realise that the ICC may initially have been a well-intentioned attempt to increased human rights accountability globally but, sadly, it is now a form of lawfare against the sovereignty of African countries.

In a world filled with atrocity and the abuse of power by the most powerful — often with Western backing — only Africans have been brought to the ICC dock.

Now with European envoys directly willing to comment to the media about a foreign country’s elections — itself a rare, almost unprecedented happening outside Kenya — it is clear that the ICC cases, whatever their merits, are being used to determine Kenya’s electoral landscape.

Our envoy friends from the UK, France and Switzerland, speaking as they claimed for the EU, and America’s (isolated) Johnnie Carson, extend the historical interference in African affairs.

Since the end of the Cold War, much of the interference has been steered through what in Kenya is called civil society but is actually a movement of privileged local elites fully funded by foreign states. 

Many of them issue a vague leftist rhetoric, whose hypocrisy is revealed by the fact that their expensive rents in leafy suburbs are paid for by foreign entities that are the geo-political soldiers of global capital. Not surprisingly, the AfriCog board includes Maina Kiai, John Githongo, Gladwell Otieno, and, formerly, Duncan Okello, who quit to become Chief Justice Mutunga’s chief of staff.

People who pose as warriors for justice and human rights, but who, as can be seen by AfriCog’s funding and actions, are part of a vanguard that, deliberately or not, whether from cynical self-interest or naivety, fronts Western interests in Kenya. 

See the AfriCog website ( to see how these principled positions in a Kenyan court are being paid for by foreign interests.

To be a sovereign country is a precious right in a global system of powerful state actors that seek to control their weaker counterparts. Self-rule, independence, non-alignment during the Cold War, and pan-Africanism were what Kenya’s struggle for independence was about. 

But Western powers are in the forefront of propping up dictators and then pushing for their deposing through regime change politics and military invasion.

Kenya is not in a similar league with these countries in geo-strategic terms. But it is still important as a country in which European interests and double-standards can be fully rooted if there is a pliable government. 

Kenya is where the West can be “moral” even while it supports nearby countries that are authoritarian and chronic abusers of human rights, with hardly a word in protest from Kenya’s funded “civil society”, even though many of its dashiki-wearing leaders in private dub each other “progressives” opposed to imperialism. 

In the Marxist days of yore, there was a group of people in countries like Kenya that was called the comprador bourgeoisie. They were part of an indigenous national elite that was materially allied with foreign multinationals and military interests. 

Today, their descendants are part of the NGO sector that utilises the precious territory of human rights, justice and democracy to advance the positions of the same old global power.

AfriCog’s lawsuits may be filed by Kenyans, but they are little more than Trojan horses for the Open Society Institute, local UNDP staff, and the British, Dutch, Finnish and German governments.

Hopefully, AfriCog’s board will honestly appraise its hopelessly compromised position and future governments will take steps to halt this deep penetration of Kenyan democracy by foreign interests. 

Mr Kimalel is a political scientist.([email protected])