Reuters Pictures 2 days ago U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins Kenyan dancers during a dinner party in Nairobi August 5, 2009. Picture taken August 5, 2009.
It mystifies me how a person as vibrant, active, and photogenic as our Secretary of State manages to elude the cameras of MSM despite the news orgs spending royally on sending correspondents to travel along with her. Well OK, fair’s fair – Campbell Brown and Brian Williams showed lengthy (for them) clips of Hillary dancing in Nairobi (in which, incidentally, she looked adorable and she does know how to move those hips). But watching their reports (and others) gives the vewer the impression that all Hillary did in Kenya was party. Hillary does know how to knock back a drink, and “get down” at the appropriate moment, but the reports arrive far short of covering what Hillary actually did over the past few days in Kenya. Here are a few things the American people should know about the nature our lovely top diplomat and her activities in Kenya.
From left to right Kenyan Vice President, Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, during the official opening the 8th Africa Growth Opportunity Act Conference(AGOA) in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009.
To appreciate these activities you need to know a little about a few folks with whom Hillary and her entourage rubbed shoulders. She was in meetings with and made remarks in the presence of William Ruto, Kenyan Minister of Agriculture, and Raila Odinga, Prime Minister. In the wake of the December 2007 election, vicious violence broke out in Kenya. Both Ruto and Odinga are widely suspected of having heavy hands in fomenting that violence which lasted for several months before President Mwai Kibaki agreed to the formation of a coalition government by reviving the post Prime Minister for Mr. Odinga to occupy.
On two occasions, once in the presence of one of these men, Hillary spoke of justice for the violence committed in January and February 2008. In front of Ruto, Hillary made remarks like these:
…the United States Government has delivered a very clear message to the Government of Kenya. Our Ambassador, our Assistant Secretary of State for Africa have both spoken out about our belief that it is in Kenya’s interest to pursue a path toward justice of those who acted in a violent manner and supported violence following the last election.
We also, of course, believe that this is an issue that is better handled by Kenyans themselves. And we urge the government, including the parliament, to act expeditiously to set up a means, whether it’s in the existing system or a special system. And I don’t think anyone will believe it’s real unless there’s actual court proceedings and prosecution. That doesn’t mean people are guilty. They’re innocent until proven so.
In a joint press conference with Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, our intrepid Secretary of State said:
The United States and Kenya share a long and deep history of friendship and cooperation. We consider Kenya a key strategic partner, a regional leader, and a nation of almost boundless potential. I have just come from a candid and wide-ranging conversation with the president, the prime minister, the vice president, and other ministers of the government where we discussed, in depth, the steps that are needed to realize that potential and to seize the opportunities that I discussed in my speech earlier.
The United States worked hard last year with Kofi Annan and the team of African Eminent Persons to support the Kenyan people to resolve the crisis that afflicted this country. Unfortunately, resolving that crisis has not yet translated into the kind of political progress that the Kenyan people deserve. Instead, the absence of strong and effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence, human rights abuses, and a lack of respect for the rule of law.
These conditions helped fuel the post-election violence, and they are continuing to hold Kenya back. The reform agenda agreed to by the coalition government and discussed in the speech that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga gave this morning must be fully implemented not just to avoid a repeat of the previous crisis or worse, but more importantly, to set the stage for a better future, a future worthy of the dynamic people of this country, a future of economic growth, democratic development, social justice, and the opportunity for every Kenyan child to live up to his or her God-given potential. I wanted the leaders to know that we respect greatly the way that the Kenyan people pulled their country back from the brink of disaster once, and the ongoing connection between the private sector, civil society, and the government that is the key to resolving these issues.
…the United States and other friends of Kenya are encouraging Kenya to handle this internally is so that it is not sent to the ICC. The ICC won’t act if a country is dealing with internal problems on its own.
And with respect to your first question, the ministers explained to me that there is a constitutional impediment to creating a local tribunal outside the ordinary judicial system, and that there is required to be a constitutional amendment in order to create a local tribunal, which has not passed the Kenyan parliament. I think that is regrettable because, obviously, the government has come up with this constitutional amendment, and there are reasons why it is preferable to the Truth and Justice and Reconciliation Commission because it would have the ability to actually prosecute perpetrators.
We have made our views known. As you referenced, a statement from our ambassador summarized those views. I know this is not easy. I understand how complicated this is. It’s complicated, in part, because politically how do you go about prosecuting the perpetrators without engendering more violence from those who are supportive of the positions or the affiliations of the perpetrators. So it does take a lot of political will and leadership.
And we continue to believe that a special local tribunal is in the best interest of Kenya, so as to avoid having outsiders determine the outcome here. But as you know, Kofi Annan and the people working with him have handed a sealed envelope of ten names to the ICC, which has a lot on its plate. It’s not acting immediately, of course, because I think there is still the hope that Kenya will resolve this matter on its own, and that is certainly the American hope as well.
If Hillary had made statements like these, been whisked off to HillForce One and flown away, that would have been one thing. But she did not leave. She made these statements, and THEN she went out to the party, and remained in the country for a good long time before late last night (our time) she flew to South Africa.
Hillary has manifested in Kenya , as she did in 1995 in Beijing, a brand of courage and fortitude at least equivalent to standing in the line of fire on a battlefield. When she did go out dancing, it was as a dedicated and courageous public servant having done a hard day’s work, and certainly she deserved the fun she had. She was alone out there, really, despite her traveling party, saying things that few others in the administration would be brave enough to say.
In yesterday’s NYT, this article appeared under the unfortunate header Kenya’s Volatile Politics Shadow Clinton. At a later time I will address here the ever-redundant Hillary::Shadow collocation. Channeling my Irish grandmother as I pinch (hard) the author of the header, I applaud the NYT for telling the real story about why Hillary is in Africa. She did not go over there to party and dance, cute as she looks doing it!
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