Thursday, February 28, 2008

Who Is Driving This Bus, Barry?

At Tuesday night’s debate in Ohio, Barack Obama had this to say:

Senator Clinton equates experience with time spent in Washington. The American people don't find that an accurate measure. The decision to go into Iraq was the most important in a generation.

Once we drove into the ditch, there were only so many ways to get out... She was ready to give in to George W. Bush on Day One on this issue.

an excerpt from The poverty of international journalism
John Barbieri (2008-01-22)
The U.S. has keenly been trying to build up allies in East Africa and the Horn of Africa to counterbalance other perceived ‘threat’ countries in the region. These key U.S. allies include Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. These allies are meant to act as a counter-balance to the ‘threats’ of Sudan (the Bashir regime), Eritrea and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) in Somalia. The Bush administration has clearly supported incumbent Kibaki due to the fact that his government has been one of these key allies in the ‘war on terror’ in the East and the Horn of Africa.

A Timeline

June 2006
The Islamists seized Mogadishu, the capital raising concerns that fundamentalists were gaining increasing influence in the Horn of Africa nation, without an effective central government since 1991.

Raila flew to the US, where he held talks with Senator Barack Obama, one of the candidates seeking the Democratic Party ticket to vie for the American presidency.

Aug 28, 2006
There are signs of tension between Sen. Barack Obama and African leaders. On Monday, Obama stepped up his criticism of government corruption in Kenya.

But as CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports, the government fired back, saying Obama is a stooge for an opposing political party.

After remaining largely silent, the government of President Mwai Kibaki is beginning to respond, suggesting that Obama may have fallen under the spell of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

A potential presidential candidate himself, Odinga's been at Obama's elbow here fairly often and is a member of the Obama family's Luo tribe.

"Sen. Obama has to look at critically about where he's receiving his advice from," said government spokesman Dr. Alfred Mutua. "Just because somebody, somewhere wants to run for president and is using Sen. Obama as his stooge, as his puppet to be able to get to where he wants to get to."

September 26 2006
Ethiopian troops were reported to have moved into neighbouring Somalia yesterday to protect its weak transitional government a day after fighters loyal to an Islamic movement took control of a key Somali port.

December 8, 2007
The Ethiopians gave no reason for their departure Saturday from Somalia, though they had been under pressure from rights groups to vacate civilian houses.

January 7, 2008
Soon after the Dec. 27 vote, Kenya's election commission announced that President Mwai Kibaki (pronounced muh-WHY key-BAH-key) had been narrowly reelected. Immediately there were charges that the votes had not been counted honestly. Kibaki's rival, Raila Odinga (rah-EE-lah o-DIN-gah), called him a thief who stole the election and demanded that Kibaki step down. The head of the election panel later said he was pressured into making a quick announcement, and that he is not sure who won the election.

Who is Raila Odinga?

International media reported widespread violence erupted throughout Kenya’s rural areas after the nation’s electoral commission declared incumbent President Mwai Kibaki defeated challenger Raila Odinga, and Odinga’s supporters claimed the voting was rigged.

But Solomon Kimuyu, a Dallas resident who has maintained his Kenyan citizenship, said he saw televised images of the violence long before the polls closed, just prior to a media blackout in Kenya. And he asserted members of Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement with close ties to the National Muslim Leaders Forum orchestrated much of the rioting.

Muslim extremists tied to the opposition party pledged long before the election that if certain conditions were not met prior to the Dec. 27 voting, violence would result, he insisted.

While violence in Kenya has been portrayed as a spontaneous reaction to injustice and vote fraud, Muslim radicals planned much of it in advance, Kimuyu insisted.
And while “we will never know” if the election was rigged by the party in control, he maintains voters unquestionably were threatened and harassed by Muslim supporters of the opposition party.

“People were prevented from going to the polls, and people were prevented from counting votes,” he said.
He also pointed to a controversial document the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya posted on its website. It was purported to be a memorandum of understanding between Odinga and his party and the National Muslim Leaders Forum. The document appears to have been signed by Odinga and Sheik Abdullah Abdi on Aug. 29, 2007.
The posted document states Odinga agreed to rewrite Kenya’s constitution within six month to declare Sharia, or Islamic law, legally binding in the country’s Muslim-declared regions in exchange for the Muslim leaders’ endorsement. It also includes provisions banning open-air Christian meetings in Kenya’s northeastern and coastal areas and ordering primary schools in those regions to conduct daily madrassa classes promoting Islam.

Given the statements that Barack Obama has made about Pres. Bush and Sen. Clinton, and the current US policy of building up allies in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, one has to wonder why Barack decided to choose sides in the Kenya elections. Who is driving the bus into the ditch with respect to Kenya, Barry?

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