Politicians should heed envoys’ plea

Tuesday October 3 2017

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It is not the business of foreign envoys to give lectures to sovereign states where they are posted.

Their mission is to maintain and expand ties for the mutual benefit of the partnering nations.

But this normative only obtains to the extent that the host countries act and behave civilly and in conformity to their own laws and international standards.

Recent events have put Kenya in the eye of a storm.

This week, 14 ambassadors and high commissioners from influential countries in the world issued a hard-hitting statement to Kenya’s leaders, condemning Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance over the impasse on the presidential election set for October 26.

Quite profoundly, they have issued stern warnings and threatened sanctions against those suspected of stoking the fires.


The message is that the world is watching and will not allow Kenya to descend into chaos as it did after the bungled elections in 2007.

The envoys are adding to a growing list of voices that have been calling for a cessation of hostilities between the two camps.

Both Jubilee and Nasa have lost direction and must be told as much.

Nasa has planned a series of street protests to force policy and structural changes at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).


Specifically, it has a stream of demands it calls an “irreducible minimum”, which it wants effected before the election — yet some are just impractical.

Their constant threats against the IEBC undermine its authority and ability to execute its mandate.

For its part, Jubilee Party has resorted to amending electoral laws — Elections Offences Act and Elections Act — under the guise of curing anomalies that led to the annulment of the August 8 presidential election.


In reality, the upshot of the changes is to trim the powers of the IEBC and eliminate restrictions on misuse of public resources in election campaigns.

The timing and the speed are patently wrong.

Add to this the constant threats against the Judiciary, civil society organisations and other independent voices and the situation gets worse.

The politicians have crossed the line and it does not need diplomats to tell them that.

They must stop fanning chaos through reckless statements and brinkmanship.