Kenya’s change of government not beneficial to East Africa and the African Union

August 9, 2017 10:30 pm
Kenyans have voted for a new president in a tight race, which pitted incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta against his longtime rival, Raila Odinga. Press TV has talked to Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African Wire, as well as George Shire, academic and political analyst, to discuss who is best to govern the country.
Abayomi Azikiwe believes a change of government in would not be beneficial to East and the African Union as a whole given the major regional geopolitical developments that require “uniformity in their approach” – namely the situation in South Sudan and Somalia.  
He also noted that Raila Odinga is favored by both Britain and the United States, and that he intends to support US foreign policy imperatives in Africa, which are not consistent with the direction that the Kenyan government has taken over the last decade.
“A lot of the foreign policy positions that he [Odinga] is taking coincide with those of the United States. For example, he has made statements that are very hostile to the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe about its president which were completely undiplomatic and uncalled for. But these views converge with those of the United States as well as Britain,” he said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Azikiwe said that corruption in Kenya has been a problem for decades and that there has been “fairly substantial economic growth” in the country.  
However, he said, there is no specific evidence to suggest that President Kenyatta himself is personally corrupt.
He recalled that back in 2013, Kenyatta assumed office despite overwhelming opposition from both Britain and the United States, both of which have been “very negative and hostile” towards him during the past four years.
Odinga has already accused the Kenyan government of rigging the elections, he said, adding it is rather “unfortunate” that such rhetoric is being thrown around.
Azikiwe further warned that any difficulties in the process or the acceptance of the outcome of Kenya’s elections could be “very destabilizing.”

 Kenya police officers monitor access to a polling station at Kariokor Community Center in Nairobi on August 8, 2017 during general elections. (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, George Shire, the other panelist on the program, opined that Odinga was facing a big “uphill struggle” to win this election, because he has failed to offer anything “substantially new” that would persuade the Kenyan people.
Odinga, he said, is seen within the regional context as someone who might destabilize the region, adding that a change of government now would throw the relations between Kenya and Tanzania into further flux.
The analyst further stated there is uncertainty about where Odinga wants to take Kenya in its economic strategy, emphasizing that he does not seem to have alliances within the region, the continent or regional organizations in the country.
“If you look at the tone of the election itself, his election campaign has been rather on the negative side; whereas Kenyatta’s role has been upbeat. In that context, I really do not see Odinga winning,” he said, adding that in case he does win, the critical moment will be to watch how people will receive the result.
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