America's Real Agenda with new President Mwai Kibaki

By Okoth Osewe, Kenya Socialist Web Site, 12 October 2003

The United States is not interested in helping Kenya sort out the long standing crisis brought about by the deformed capitalist system that has ravaged the country for 40 years and left the population deprived and poor. The real imperialist agenda is to use Kenya for the realization of political, economic, military and strategic interests in the East and Central African region.

As Kibaki left for the United States on 3 October, Kenya was at the brink of signing article 98 of the Roma Statute which will establish the International Criminal Tribunal over crimes against humanity. The United States does not want Kenya to sign this statute. In late September, Mr. Moses Wetangula, Kenya's Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, told Parliament that the United States wanted its citizens who live in Kenya to be protected from trial at the International Criminal Tribunal. Kibaki's Washington trip was therefore linked to persuading him to accept American demands that the Kenyan government either refrains from signing the treaty or accede to proposal that US citizens who commit crimes that could bring them before the Tribunal be protected from prosecution.

In recent times, the Kenyan government has been under pressure from the Americans who have been demanding that Kenya host a US military base. Since the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi in August 1998 and recent terrorist activities notably in Mombasa where the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel was bombed by suspected terrorists, the US has been worried about the spread of militant Islamic Fundamentalism in Kenya, a major playground of American and British capitalists for decades. However, the pressure for a US military base in Kenya is not directly tied to fighting terrorism but in enabling the US to monitor activities of interest more closely and for US to be able to intervene militarily in the region if necessary at short notice.

For the US, the background for a US military base in Kenya is that such a base is likely to be used for quick military deployments and espionage in the East and Central African region. This is besides the added advantage of using such a base to check different “enemy activities” in the horn of Africa, the vast Indian ocean and the Gulf region, a vast area which has been identified by the US government as possible entry and exist points for alleged terrorists looking for hide outs or leaving training camps in places like Somalia or Sudan to attack American targets abroad.

American strategy is to transfer its solders to safer grounds in East Africa

The US is trimming down its military presence in the Middle East where American solders are more prone to fatal attacks from radical suicide bombers and more organized terrorist cells which the American government has linked to Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist Networks. By seeking new bases possibly in the heart of Kenya, the American strategy is to transfer solders to safer grounds in East Africa where operations of suicide bombers could be limited while at the same time being able to intervene in the Middle East if there is a major reason for doing so. The death of American solders at the hands of Islamic Fundamentalists generates lots of negative propaganda at home and if the solders can be kept safely in Kenya, why not soften Kibaki to accept a deal through a lavish State visit that Bush has not accorded any African head of State since he took over power?

The Kenyan government has been reluctant in accepting a US military base in the country because of fear that such a move may attract suicide bombers to Kenya and even lead to attacks at Kenyan targets inside the country on grounds that the government is abetting the “Great Satan” in its declared war against Islam. In fact, the terrorist bomb blasts which have so far rocked Kenya have underlined the vulnerability of the country to terrorist attacks and sent strong warning signals that Kenya is a very soft target for terrorists. With its dilapidated security apparatus, porous boarders, the presence of a Muslim population that terrorist cells could use for cover and low Intelligence gathering capabilities, the immediate consequence of a US military base in Kenya could be an upsurge in terrorist attacks at civilian targets.

With their sophistication in espionage and intelligence gathering capabilities, the Israeli government has been unable to stop the bloody murder of hundreds of Israeli citizens by militant Palestinians ready to die for liberation of their country. In the circumstances, Kenya stands no chance in waging an effective war against terrorists ordered to teach the government a bitter lesson as a result of its links with the “Satanic” United States. Even if America assures Kenya that it will provide it with security assistance to counter the threat of terrorism, such an offer will not help because the Americans have failed to do so in Israel where Islamic militants have been striking at will for years.

The September 11th terrorist attacks, the failure to locate and arrest terrorist leaders like Osama Bin Laden, the Bali terrorist bombing last October, the Mombasa bombing of Paradise Hotel, the American embassy bombing in Nairobi and Dar-es-salam in 1998, constant terrorist bomb blasts in Asia and direct hits on American targets by terrorists in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have all served to expose the limitation of American Intelligence capabilities when it comes to monitoring and stopping terrorists from attacking American targets anywhere in the world. If terrorist's agenda turns to Kenya, the US will be of no help to Kenya.

The US government has itself acknowledged that Kenya is unsafe and advised its citizens to avoid traveling to Kenya because of risks of being attacked by terrorists. As Kibaki held talks with Bush, the travel ban had not been lifted although Kenya's tourism industry continues to suffer as a result of the ban. Whether or not President Kibaki accepted to host an American military base during his Washington trip remains a matter of wait and see.

Apart from the request for a military base, American mercenaries have been operating at the port city of Mombasa since the early eighties after they were allowed to do so by former dictator Moi. The problem then was that the aborted 1982 coup attempt by former Kenya Air Force (KAF) solders warned America that its interests could be at risk if anti-American solders took over power in Kenya. With Kenya's 30,000 solders protecting 30 million people, the presence of a well equipped American base in Kenya could easily subdue any anti-American military coup and quickly restore a pro American puppet in power without much ado. The campaign by the Americans for a military base in Kenya is therefore likely to continue. Nairobi is already being used by the CIA as headquarters for intelligence operations in the East and Central African region. FBI agents roam the streets of Nairobi and Mombasa freely in their search for terrorists while Kenya has handed over a number of suspected terrorists to be tried in US Courts even without an extradition treaty.

US government has a pending anti-terrorism bill that they want Kenyan Parliament to pass

Another issue is that Kibaki was invited to Washington soon after media reports that Kenya had been approached by the US to send solders as part of a peace keeping force in Iraq where American solders continue to die at the hands of Iraqi guerillas waging war against American occupation of their country. The Washington trip may have been planned to talk Kibaki into accepting American desires of having solders from other countries die in Iraq (as opposed to American solders) under the US controlled United Nations Peace Keeping Force Program. For the Americans, the pumping of Iraqi oil revenues back to America is the sticking point regardless of who is dying in the process. The proposal has already been opposed by a number of Kenyan MPs while bourgeoisie media commentators like Mr. Kwendo Opanga of The East African Standard have also opposed it. Did President Kibaki accept to send Kenyan solders to Iraq to shed blood in a war that has nothing to do with Kenyan interests?

President Kibaki had to be given a prestigious treatment through a State visit because the Americans have a pending anti-terrorism bill which they want Kenyan Parliament to pass. The bill reads like a Constitution for the violation of the rights and freedoms of Kenyans in the name of fighting terrorism. If passed, the bill may subject Kenyan Muslims (who form 20% of the population) to even more State oppression and terror. The opposition to the bill in Kenya (even by opportunist MPs known to follow the wind) surprised America. Months after it was proposed, the bill remains shrouded in controversy. In Washington, the Americans were expected to use the passing of the bill as a condition for the disbursement of aid by the World Bank and IMF and it will be interesting to see how Kibaki mobilizes members of his divided Coalition to support the bill in Parliament.

President Kibaki will face stiff opposition to the passing of the bill because its content appears to have been well understood by the civil society and other human rights activists who have been educating the public about the bill's major implications. The situation will further be worsened by the fact that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that has accused Kibaki of failing to honour a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they signed with the new President have vowed to block every government bill brought before Parliament.

President Kibaki's trip had more to do with selling Kenya to US Imperialism

Behind President Kibaki's visit to Washington was pressure by the IMF and World Bank that the government proceed with its privatization program especially of lucrative Telecommunication and Energy sectors. More than 100 state enterprises are awaiting privatization and the multinational companies that have the money to buy these enterprises at throw away prices are mainly American and British companies. At the same time, the Kenyan government has been under pressure to reduce its national wage bill by retrenching poor workers in the Civil service who will have no way of survival if they are laid off. Even as Kibaki took over power, Moi had already retrenched thousands of workers and now, what imperialist forces led by America are asking Kibaki to do is to continue from where Moi left so that aid money can be released.

President Kibaiki''s Washington trip had more to do with selling the country to US imperialism, not implementing pledges made to Kenyans at election time. The government is so embarrassed about stiff IMF conditions that Mr. Katua Katuku, the Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Finance, refused to table the full list of conditions in Parliament when asked to do so by Mr. Sammy Weya, Narc MP from Alego Usonga. “The negotiations are on going, and therefore it is not possible at this stage to give a conclusive list of the required Government actions necessary for Kenya to qualify for financial support.”, Mr. Katua told Parliament.

This position means that the conditions may be so devastating that if they are revealed to the public at this stage, there would be an outcry or massive opposition that may derail the talks altogether at a time when the government desperately needs emergency cash from abroad for political survival. What Kenyans are being told is that negotiations about financial support that will be repaid by tax money are continuing in absolute secrecy and not even Parliament has a right of access to details. This is all what Capitalist democracy is all about and this is why KSDA is fighting for Socialism in Kenya to get rid of IMF/World Bank poverty promoting programs once and for all.

Rolling the red carpet for President Kibaki also had something to do with the last visit to Africa by President George Bush. Kenya had been left out of countries Bush visited “for security reasons” related to terrorism. The Kenyan government had been unhappy with the Americans because from the government's perspective, Kenya had done more to support American imperialist designs in Africa than any of the countries Bush visited. When Bill Clinton visited Africa during his tenure as President, he ignored Kenya and Moi was advised to travel all the way to Uganda to meet the President to beg for more aid which nevertheless, was never released. The failure of President Bush to pass through Kenya and the failure of the IMF to resume aid soon after Kibaki took over power in what was seen as a democratic election had began to send doubts in the minds of Kenya government's foreign policy strategists.

The United States was increasingly being seen as a ruthless user especially on the war against terrorism while doing nothing to help Kenya survive in the face of deep economic crisis. The situation was worsened by the fact that the August 1998 US Embassy bomb blast victims of Kenyan origin have not been adequately compensated even after the victims went to court to put their case. In the blast, over 200 people (including 12 Americans) were killed while over 3,000 Kenyans suffered serious injuries of varying degrees which left majority of them maimed or disabled. The case filed by the blast victims and relatives of survivors was dismissed by the US government and today, the victims are still grumbling.

IMF/World Bank loans Kibaki is begging for will not solve Kenya's economic crisis

The cumulative negative treatment of the Kenyan government by the Americans led the State department to host Kibaki lavishly as a way of preparing the new President to accept American conditions on virtually every aspect of American political, economic and strategic designs that could be achieved through Kenya. The US government may not have a big problem in arm-twisting Kibaki because the government is broke. President Kibaki knows that Bush controls the IMF and the World Bank and for him, the question is the extent to which he can go to sell Kenya's sovereignty for aid money without losing face.

The bitter reality is that Kibaki's waning popularity may be accelerated dramatically without aid from United States. The government needs money to pay Ksh 28 billion teacher's allowances that dates back to 1998 when the teachers were cheated by Moi. The President needs money to run the free Primary education program and to bridge the Ksh 30 billion budget deficit. The President is running lots of expensive Commissions and Task Forces that are helping him buy time and to create the impression that something is being done to clean the mess left behind by Moi. This is beside financing the monthly salaries of MPs that are running to almost Ksh 1 million per MP after the Parliamentarians hiked their wages this year. Pot holes on roads left behind by Moi needs to be filled to show the public that changes are on the way. Hospitals which have not yet collapsed need drugs to convince the public that they voted for change. The control of the aids pandemic can no longer run without Imperialist financial assistance because State coffers are empty. Although the government knows that it can do nothing to create 500,000 jobs promised to the electorate, it knows that it can beg from the United States to keep vital social services running thereby controlling growing anger against the new regime, at least on a temporary basis.

The Kibaki visit confirmed that whatever changes Narc has promised to bring to Kenya, Kenya remains a pro Imperialist country, a sad reality which means that the country's development will continue to be stagnated by agents of capitalism looking for new ways of exploiting the country's resources as the public is told to give Narc time to transform people's lives without an economic base of doing so. There is not a single government in the world that has transformed the lives of its citizens using money borrowed from abroad. There is not a single country in the world that can connect an economic success story to IMF or World Bank aid. Kenya is no exception and Kibaki's Washington visit will not trigger economic miracles in Kenya.

What we have is a litany of failures brought about by IMF/World Bank's Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPS) and other variations of the same Programs. Kenyans should therefore question why our President, who is supposed to be one of the most far-sighted and intelligent personalities in the country, thinks that the IMF and World Bank holds the key to the country's economic recovery. By accepting that borrowed money from abroad is the solution to the economic crisis facing our country, a logical conclusion is that even Kibaki's economic advisors are at sea about what needs to be done to change Kenya. This is simply a tragedy because a new government has just been elected by Kenyans who expect serious changes.

Washington trip shows that nothing has changed since the days of former Dictator Moi

Since he took over power in 1986, President Yoweri Museveni has been the darling of the IMF, World Bank, America and Britain. But, as he became drunk with power, Museveni moved from a reformist politician to a virtual dictator who officially maintains a one party authoritarian rule in Uganda. When Kibaki came to power through democratic elections that rivaled that of the West, it appears that the Americans now want to dump Museveni whose dictatorial tendency is embarrassing the Bush Administration. In our view, the Americans may be in the process of replacing Museveni with a more acceptable democratic face in the person of Kibaki whom the Bush administration can sell to the world as the new role model in East and Central Africa. With the official State visit, it would be safe to conclude that Kibaki may be taking over as the new darling of American imperialism in the region, just like President Obasanjo is in West Africa. Thabo Mbeki is too unpredictable, Sam Nujoma is a former communist while Mugabe is a renegade.

What remains now is whether Kibaki will be confirmed as the kind of puppet America would like to work with by releasing IMF/World Bank loans. In a country where majority of citizens have been brought up psychologically to believe that the IMF and World Bank can actually rescue the country from economic difficulties, the release of loans after the Kibaki visit will boost the President's image and provide fresh illusions that Kenya is on the road to economic recovery while in reality, the country is sinking deeper into poverty through external loans from imperialist financial institutions.

The Kenya Socialist Democratic Alliance believes that Kenya's sovereignty should not be traded in exchange for hand outs from abroad. The country has enough wealth and resources that can enable it sustain itself without begging from imperialism. We believe that the IMF and World bank are not partners in development but agents of economic and psychological subjugation. By traveling to the United States with the principle mission of begging, President Kibaki has shown that not much has changed since the begging days of former dictator Daniel arap Moi who retired a disappointed man because the IMF and World Bank refused to give him hand outs for well over a decade as a result of corruption. Kibaki's visit to the US was designed to serve American and not Kenyan interests. KSDA opposes such boot-licking visits in the future and calls on the new Narc government to break with American Imperialism.

We say: