An Open Letter to the UN Secretary-General on Forthcoming Kenya’s Re-run Presidential Elections

Secretary-General António Guterres by UN Photo/Mark Garten

My immediate concern is to have you move and ensure a peaceful Kenya after the re-run presidential elections scheduled for October this year. Some Kenyans had called on you to come and conduct the election. I know this is too far-fetched. Though 26 General Assembly resolutions at my last count empowered you to provide electoral assistance, I know that your staff would have advised you that Kenyan authorities must have made such request to the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at least 4 months before. And two points: the great pride of Africa, not Kenya Airways, but the David Magara led Supreme Court of Kenya could only give 60 days which is less than the minimum prescription. The time pte-condition was to allow a needs assessment by the several U.N. entities collaborating with nationals. And provide recommendations in how shortcomings could be met. Secondly, you require a clear request from the authorities and you and I know that no request would be made to you from anyone in authority in Kenya. Only the weaker tend to seak outside help.

For two reasons I can think of right away, in spite of possible sovereignty claims you are an interested party in Kenya’s planned presidential election re-run. A fundamental principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that the will of the people through periodic credible elections is the basis for government authority in any nation. David Magara’s court respected this by rendering null and void computer generated President-elect as a result of “irregularities and illegalities”. No good comes out of crime. And still respecting the point on the will of the people, Magara called for a re-run in 60 days instead of declaring the petitioner President-elect.

The second reason making you as UN Secretary-General an interested party is that, as you know too well, inluding learning from Kenya in 2007/8, electoral violence results from elections that are not seen to be transparent and credible. And the world pays you to prevent conflicts.

In the forthcoming re-run, I join the six former African Presidents who issued a joint statement on September 12, 2017 to call on you to put UN’s money where its and your mouth are: prevention. Please do not have your bureaucrats proceed by way of the General Assembly conditions for giving electoral assistance. Kindly proceed by your acclaimed desire to pursue the Ramos-Horta led team’s recommendation to you to beef up prevention of conflicts.

Any reasonable human being that follows politics in Kenya knows that if care is not taken now, many would die this October whoever wins the re-run if there is no transparency in the process. Under prevention efforts, you could send in an envoy to help the two gladiators and the electoral body to dialogue on having the election transparently credible. You can offer credible ICT experts to transparently support the data transmission efforts of the Chairman of the electoral body. You can push that the political party representatives who are experts in ICT should be in the server room.

You should wake up the African Union Commission to work with you on many silent and public diplomatic efforts to ensure that Africans do not die as a result of real or imagined technological manipulation of the re-run presidential elections. Please convince the African Union that what is needed is not safari tourists pretending to observe elections when they have little or no knowledge on technological transmission of the popular will from the polling and constituency levels.

If you wake up now and help, the loser of the election will have no choice but to concede defeat. Kenyan lives that should matter would have been saved and we’ll all be happy to return for safaris. Please don’t wait till the killings have started before looking for ways to stop them. A single life should not be lost and you have the moral suasion to make this possible.

I am Babafemi Badejo, Ph.D, who used to work for you but now the CEO of Yintab Strategy Consults. I would also like to disclose to you that I wrote a well researched and well acclaimed biography of one of the contestants in the October elections. This biography tried to cover politics in Kenya 1895-2005. As recommended by the then Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, I believe you will learn a lot about Kenya, nay Africa, if you read the book.