Friday, March 7

Kenya roundup

Michela Wrong's piece on Kenya in this week's New Statesman makes a couple good points.
  • The power-sharing agreement leaves a lot of work, but Kofi Annan deserves a lot of credit for brokering it: "Kenya with a deal is a challenging enough prospect. Kenya without one doesn't bear thinking about." Nearly every Kenyan I talk to - whether a Raila or a Kibaki supporter - is glad about the deal. Aware of the challenges it will, face but certainly glad it's in place for now.
  • The pressure on the government from Western donors was "arrogant, high-handed, a clear challenge to national sovereignty, it verged on neocolonialism. And thank God for it." In this case, donors' efforts well-directed and pretty effective. And as Wrong notes, "there has a been a widespread failure to take offense." Apart from some government hardliners, most folks seemed to have welcomed the interventions, though probably a bit more in Raila's camp.
She also poses a question I've raised a couple of times here: why did donors misread Kenya's democratic credentials, and not attribute more weight to the government's "corruption and ethnic favoritism."?

Meanwhile, a few articles today remind us that despite the political settlement, there's still a fair bit of unrest, particularly in the country's west where there have been renewed land-related clashes in recent days. (See the Washington Post, the Independent, IRIN). It's worth remembering that the conflicts mentioned here had been going on well before the elections, and by and large the country is much calmer than it was a few weeks ago. Though it doesn't mean the issue requires any less attention.

Finally, Reporters Without Borders, and a couple of other press freedom organizations have a new report criticizing Kenyan media for focusing too much on promoting reconciliation and calming tensions, and not enough on thoroughly reporting what was going on in the country. Kenyan Pundit has more beef with the country's press coverage lately. I have to say though, it is impressive the level of detail with which the Kenyan press can report on political events without actually telling you anything.

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