There is something interesting towards, and during the Obama visit.
Washington has adopted the line called “LEGALLY ELECTED”, not “DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED”. The natural English thing is usually “DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED”.
(White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice used those words in a White House press briefing, and so did Obama while on the Kenyan soil. Remember Susan Rice explains or rather spins those things that are the toughest to explain to Washington media. She is an excellent statecraft PR icon). That she was entrusted to explain it, proves just how difficult it was to convince the journalists that Obama was using taxpayer money to visit a Kenyan government that is in office as a result of the “popular will of the Kenyan people”.
We all know that there are numerous things people can do within the law to secure a legal election. LEGALLY ELECTED is absent the DEMOCRATIC will of the KENYAN people. LEGALLY ELECTED means that legal technicalities and 2 week time constraints may have led the SC judges to rule against CORD. The word LEGALLY elected effectively removes the Will of the Kenyan people out of the picture.
Like for example Museveni is the legally elected president of Uganda, so is Nkurunziza and Sudan’s Omar El Bashir….nations that throw the opposition candidates into jail. Nairobi didnt do that but I just want you to see to what extent and breadth the words LEGALLY ELECTED could go and what the ramifications are. It means ANYTHING but a COUP. But also that it doesn’t have to be democratic.
The ends of the continuum are DEMOCRATIC on the good side, AND COUP on the bad end. We know it wasn’t a coup, but if it was democratic, believe you me, that’s what Washington would have used. And so Washington’s hesitation to use the word Democratic rules it out.
And so, in Washington’s semantics, Uhuru is in power through means that are neither a coup nor democratic. But can be anything in between, but which was made legal by a Supreme Court ruling. Remember the words, BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT? That’s what CORD wasn’t able to do. And the burden of proof was on them, remember. And so in that case, a legal decision was reached in which the status quo prevailed.They fell short of declaring Uhuru democratically elected.
Washington is deliberately avoiding the word DEMOCRATIC with huge perception ramifications, and Nairobi would better demand the word LEGALLY be replaced by DEMOCRATIC to counter the widely accepted narrative that the 2013 election was flawed and undemocratic.
What Nkurunziza did recently was a LEGAL third term in which he is now LEGALLY in office, absent a democratic process. What Washington is implying is that Uhuru isn’t democratically in office, but rather Legally in office. Nairobi would rather demand they use “Constitutionally Elected”, which has more meat.
To the ignorant the words LEGALLY ELECTED is cause to celebrate, but to the keen eye, those words from a man with CIA, FBI, USAID, Pentagon and numerous foreign embassies’ briefing each morning across the world at his disposal is a cause for Jubilee spin-masters to get back to the drawing board. The issue is that the world has never believed that Jubilee won democratically, and with Washington’s hesitation to say Uhuru was DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED, deepens that perception.
What does Washington know about Uhuru’s legitimacy?
Sospeter Otieno is a National Security Analyst