The ‘No’ team led by former YK ’92 operative William Ruto has in recent days embarked on a steady campaign to divert Kenyans’ attention from their lies about the proposed Constitution.
Ruto’s strategy is to attack the US ambassador to Kenya, Mr Michael Rannenberger, and by extension US President Barack Obama at every turn in an attempt to convince Kenyans that the push for reforms is a foreign idea.
It is obvious that Mr Ruto and other remnants of the dangerous YK ‘92 group that helped former President Moi cling on to power and bring the country down on its knees, are determined to do anything in their power to maintain the culture of impunity.
It will not be lost on observers that the attacks on the envoy are reminiscent of the campaign Moi and cronies orchestrated against then US ambassador Smith Hempstone in the 1990s.
Back then, President Moi and his legmen masquerading as youth representatives used all manner of attacks against the ambassador for supporting civic organisations and other groups in the clamour for a return to multipartyism.
The script now, as then, is familiar. Back then, those chastising Mr Hempstone zealously invoked buzz-words and catch-phrases such as state “sovereignty”, “meddling in internal affairs”, “money has been poured” and other vitriol.
Moi’s strategy then was to lure Kenyans into believing that the whole idea of multiparty politics was championed by foreigners and would supposedly create chaos.
Flash forward to 2010. Mr Ruto, a student of Mois, while enjoying the rights that were earned by Kenyans with the help of an unrelenting US ambassador, is on overdrive in his bid to return the country to the dark days of his mentor.
I commend Ruto for being a quick study in the art of political communication. He knows pretty well that framing in this era of a 24-hour news cycle is critical.
In the last week or two, he has consistently repeated his accusations against the ambassador, thus refocusing the debate to being about foreign involvement instead of the strengths of the proposed constitution.
The regret is that the ambassador was forced to give Mr Ruto some credibility by responding to the allegations. The sustained onslaught leads to the question: Who is behind this strategy and what are their objectives?
I believe Ruto knows very well that the US conservatives who have been bankrolling his activities would care less about Kenya’s destiny.
I would hope that he knows the conservatives’ stated goal is to bring down President Obama and what better place to frustrate his foreign policy than Kenya?
Having studied international relations in Washington, DC., and lived here for over a decade, I, like many other Africans, have had an opportunity to follow the politics of the world’s most powerful political capital.
Any American, Democrat Republican, Conservative or Tea Partier knows that America’s major export is democracy, governance and the rule of law.
Republican congressmen Chris Smith and Darrell Issa, who have cut themselves a niche as some of the leading Republicans to oppose everything and anything Obama, understand clearly that the Obama Administration are within their mandate to fund civic education, not only in Kenya, but anywhere in the world.
Smith, for instance, introduced a Bill on January 27 last year, exactly a week after Obama was sworn in as president to ban USAid funding organisations providing abortion internationally.
Later that summer, he tried to reintroduce it during the acrimonious healthcare debate without success. Now he has decided the only place to take his battle is Kenya.
Assuming Mr Smith is right about the provisions of the US law on funding pro-choice organisations, he should tell the American taxpayer whether Cotu, North-Eeastern PC’s office, the Provincial Peace Forum, the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance do provide abortion services. The proposed constitution is more than abortion and kadhi courts.
Mr Kaberia is a Washington-based former human rights activist in Kenya ([email protected])